Thursday, April 12, 2018

Book Feature: Bagels & Salsa by Suspense/Romance/Humor Author Lara Reznik


BAGELS & SALSA by Lara Reznik, Suspense/Romance/Humor, 296 pp., $12.99 (Paperback) $3.99 (Kindle edition)


Title: BAGELS & SALSA
Author: Lara Reznik
Publisher: Enchanted Indie Press
Pages: 296
Genre: Suspense/Romance/Humor

Author Lara Reznik blends suspense, romance, and humor in her latest novel, BAGELS & SALSA (http://www.larareznik.com/bagels-and-salsa). Loosely based on Reznik’s life, the story of Laila and Eduardo highlights the turmoil that surfaces when a Jewish sociologist from New York and a Hispanic doctor from rural New Mexico fall hard and fast for each other. Their blossoming relationship develops against the backdrop of terror the Son of Sam created in New York City during the summer of 1977.

Early reviews of BAGELS & SALSA praise the story’s dynamic plot and colorful characters:
“The author tells a simple love story, but she structures the novel to provide a panoramic view of her characters” (Kirkus Reviews).

“Another lovely read from Lara Reznik! . . . As with all her novels there are also plenty of fun subplot twists and turns. I wanted more.”  (Barbara Gaines, Former Executive Producer of The Late Show with David Letterman).

BAGELS & SALSA opens at a high school assembly hall in a rough part of the Bronx where Laila Levin is giving her first postdoctorate presentation on the US teen pregnancy epidemic. Her fear of public speaking and a chance encounter with the Son of Sam unravel her as several loud bangs crack through the air. Laila falls on the stage and injures her right shoulder. Fortunately, Dr. Eduardo Quintana jumps into action.

What begins as a playful flirtation while Laila recovers in the hospital propels into a more serious relationship with the handsome doctor. Their mutual passion is so intense that it stuns them both. The unlikely pair share strong family values and an interest in teen pregnancy prevention. After a brief courtship, Eduardo persuades Laila to accompany him to his family’s ranch near Española, New Mexico, where he plans to open a family practice. The rural town has one of the highest pregnancy rates in North America: the perfect place for Laila’s research.

Once in New Mexico, Laila is blatantly rejected by Sylvia, Eduardo’s controlling mother. Sylvia wants Eduardo to marry Violet, his high school sweetheart, who has recently returned to New Mexico after a failed flight attendant career and a walk on the dark side of Hollywood. Violet’s mother and Sylvia cook up a plan to send Laila packing and reunite their children. The Quintanas hold a large pig roast and invite a menagerie of tattooed cousins, rodeo stars, and mariachis. And the drop-dead gorgeous Violet makes a grand entrance.

In the midst of the pandemonium that results, a shocking family secret is revealed, and Laila and Eduardo’s love for each other is severely tested. Can their relationship survive the fierce clash of cultures, the murderous intentions of a Son of Sam copycat who has stalked Laila from New York City, and their own uncertainties about the upheavals that their union will cause in their lives?

Reznik’s first goal in writing BAGELS & SALSA is to entertain readers. However, she says, “On a more thematic level, I’d like readers to think about the importance of embracing religious, ethnic, and cultural differences, which have been at the core of so much conflict in the world.”
Order Your Copy!

https://www.amazon.com/Mistress-Suffragette-Diana-Forbes-ebook/dp/B06XG3G2TF


On the morning of July 29, 1977, as New York’s blistering heat wave persisted, every woman in Manhattan was in a state of panic. The Daily News published a handwritten letter from a man claiming to be the serial murderer of forty-four victims. That specific day had been singled out in the letter as the date he planned to strike again. Some of my friends refused to leave their apartments. Others escaped to Fire Island or the Catskills, or retreated to their parents’ homes in the suburbs.
I tried not to let the panic pervading New York City that stifling summer morning dictate my life despite the fact that July 29th was also the two-year anniversary of my disastrous nuptials to Julian Goldblatt or Jules Gold, the nom de plume he used on his hip late night radio show. Any reminder of my wedding day still made me cringe with rage and humiliation.
Admittedly, my anxiety was at an all time high as I parked my canary-yellow Chevrolet Bel Air, and fed coins into the meter at the curb. Fearful of the new threats from the Son of Sam, I opened my purse and eyeballed the .38 caliber pistol my father had slipped under the table last night at Ratners on Delancey Street, a kosher dairy restaurant, and the perfect choice for a vegetarian like me.


Lara Reznik is a native New Yorker who studied at the University of New Mexico and the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop. Bagels & Salsa is her third novel.

Writing books since she was six years old, Reznik retired from an executive position in information technology after the success of her first novel, The Girl From Long Guyland, published in 2012. In 2015, Reznik published her second book, The M&M Boys.

Reznik currently lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two miniature Aussies.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Blog Tour - Snickety Dickety Doo by Danica-Lea Larcombe @danicalea #blogtour


SNICKETY DICKETY DOO by Danica-Lea Larcombe, Children's Fiction, 90 pp., $9.61 (Paperback) 


Title: SNICKETY DICKETY DOO
Author: Danica-Lea Larcombe
Publisher: Blurb
Pages: 90
Genre: Children’s Fiction

George, Fiona and Marni find a tin of bubbles, not just any ordinary bubbles but planets. The planets shrink the children and take them to faraway lands. The children have many exciting adventures and try not to let their secret be discovered.  They learn about different cultures, currencies and languages, and are inspired at school.

In Series Two, George, Marni and Fiona continue their adventures around the world in the planet bubbles. They narrowly escape being killed by some monks in Turkey, find a little companion in Paris and visit royalty in Monaco.

Order Your Copy!

https://www.amazon.com/Mistress-Suffragette-Diana-Forbes-ebook/dp/B06XG3G2TF


It wasn’t just a small piece of tin.  Curiosity got the better of her and Marni decided she better keep digging around.  She could see the edges now and it looked like it was a tin box of some sort.  Marni suddenly forgot about her wish and dug frantically to get the box out.  It was quite a light box of about medium size.  It was not painted and there was no writing on it. 
“What on earth could be in it?” Marni wondered.
It had a small padlock but this was rusted and broke off easily.  She opened the lid carefully to find nine individually wrapped balls, or so she thought.  She unwrapped one of the balls to find it was not a ball.  In her hand it shone like a bubble, and was soft and tender to touch.  It had little feet and hands and was the colour of the sun.

 “Oh my”, Marni whispered, “It has got a face!” 
The bubble’s eyes were closed and the mouth still.  On the other side it had the shape of a door, but there was no door handle.  How odd.
Marni looked at her watch quickly. It was six o’clock which was tea time and her parents would be calling her any minute.  She hastily re-wrapped the ball and closed the tin.  She put her secret wish down the hole and filled it up with the dark brown coloured soil. 
Somehow Marni made it back inside the house and into her bedroom without anyone seeing the box.  She could not wait to show it to George and Fiona but it would have to wait until after tea.  Her hands and knees were filthy dirty now, and her father questioned her. 
“What have you been doing? You look like a gypsy”. 
“Oh, just helping Fiona in the garden” Marni lied. 
Dinner was always a silent occasion in the Dimond household, and you got your knuckles rapped if you spoke.  Which Fiona did quite often. 
Marni wished tea time would hurry up and finish but she had to wait for the compulsory pudding first.  It would either be apple crumble or apple strudel with ice-cream.  Her mother baked wonderfully, but never seemed to want to try new recipes.  Now they were all allowed to leave the table because everyone had finished but the dishes still had to be dried and put away after her mother had washed them.  It was the height of the summer and daylight savings time meant that sunset would not be until about 8.30pm.
“George, Fiona, come into my room.  I have something to show you” Marni said.  “Quickly then” grumbled George.  “I want to finish my hut”. 
“Ooh what is it?” asked Fiona. 



Danica-Lea Larcombe has a B.Sc (Environmental Health), a Grad.Dip in Education and has taken courses in Journalism, Travel Writing, and Photography. She is currently undertaking a thesis in Biodiversity and Human Health, and lives with her Japanese Spitz Bella.
                                                                                       

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Friday, March 23, 2018

Interview with Ilona Salley, author of Yesterday is Never Gone






Title: Yesterday is Never Gone
Author: Ilona Sally
Publisher: iUniverse
Genre: Thriller/Crime
Format: Ebook
Niki is no stranger to horrific personal challenges. As a child, she bravely endured abandonment by her father. While in her teens, she witnessed her mother’s murder and the abduction and presumed death of her only sibling. Although her secrets have always been carefully cloaked from others, they have shaped her personality more than she would like to admit. But with a past as terrible as hers, how can Niki ever hope for a bright future? Years later, Niki is a dedicated profiler in a criminal investigation agency with no idea her life is about to change exponentially. One day, through a quirky twist of fate, she receives startling news that her sister, Inge, is alive. As a driving force compels Niki to search for her, she embarks on a quest that takes her through cities and wilderness on two continents. She encounters difficult decisions, threatening mobsters, near-death experiences, and romance, yet nothing deters her from reaching her goal—not even a gruesome discovery about her father. But Niki is about to discover that things are never what they seem to be. In this thrilling tale, deception and inner turmoil hamper a young woman’s journey toward a new reality as she attempts to reconcile her past and find the truth.


Question1- Do you have a daily writing routine?

Usually, I get up, have breakfast and begin to write. I find my head is clear in the morning and I just have to ignore everything else until the afternoon. Generally, I do not sit for more than three hours at a time. If there is research to be done, I will do this later, as it does not require such concentration.
Question2- Where do you do most of your writing?

Mostly, I do my writing on my desktop computer in the family room which is mostly unused in the mornings. I feel grounded at my desktop, but sometimes have to use the laptop which seems to be a transitory thing, moved from place to place. Here, I do not feel as comfortable.
Question3- Where did you grow up? Can you tell us a little about it?

I was born in Germany, but moved to Canada when I was three. I grew up in Toronto and have made that area my home. My parents spoke German in the family, and because my father spoke many languages, I developed an interest in languages.  I studied German and French and Latin.
Toronto is a very multi-cultural city with so many restaurants and customs of all ethnicities. It seems just normal when you live here, but when you go on a trip and return, you realize how rich the city is in its diversity.
Question4- What is your motto in life/writing?

Motto? Strange. I never really thought of a motto. I think it could be “Live and Learn”. I always try to learn something big and new each year.
Question5- What inspired you to writing your book?

It was not a single event or thing which inspired me to write my book. I always wanted to write a novel, and I was watching a lot of crime stories on TV like Criminal Minds and CSI. I was reading thrillers and crime stories too, authors like: Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cornwall, David Baldacci and John Grisham. So, naturally I got steered towards writing a thriller.     
Ilona Salley emigrated from Germany to Toronto, Canada, with her family when she was three. Throughout her life, her interests have included squash, skiing, wood carving, literature, art, and languages. Her fascination with architecture and archaeology has led her to travel in search of ancient places and artifacts. After a long career as an educator, she expanded her horizons by teaching in England and China. Now, she spends part of each year in Fort Myers, Florida.

Book Feature: Last Puffs by Harley Mazuk


LAST PUFFS by Harley Mazuk, Mystery/Crime, 293 pp., $14.95 (Paperback) $4.99 (Kindle edition)


Title: LAST PUFFS
Author: Harley Mazuk
Publisher: New Pulp Press
Pages: 293
Genre: Mystery/Crime/Private Eye


Frank Swiver and his college pal, Max Rabinowitz, both fall in love with Amanda Zingaro, courageous Republican guerilla, in the Spanish civil war. But the local fascists murder her and her father.

Eleven years later in San Francisco in 1949, Frank, traumatized by the violence in Spain, has become a pacifist and makes a marginal living as a private eye. Max who lost an eye in Spain but owes his life to Frank, has pledged Frank eternal loyalty. He’s a loyal communist party member and successful criminal attorney.

Frank takes on a case for Joan Spring, half-Chinese wife of a wealthy banker. Joan seduces Frank to ensure his loyalty. But Frank busts up a prostitution/white slavery ring at the Lotus House a brothel in Chinatown, where Joan was keeping refugees from Nanking prisoners.

Then Max sees a woman working in a Fresno cigar factory, who is a dead ringer for Amanda, and brings in Frank, who learns it is Amanda. She has tracked the fascists who killed her father and left her for dead from her village in Spain to California. Amanda wants Frank to help her take revenge. And by the way, she says the ten-year-old boy with her is Frank’s son.

Joan Spring turns out to be a Red Chinese secret agent, and she’s drawn a line through Max’s name with a pencil. Can Frank save Max again? Can he help Amanda avenge her father when he’s sworn off violence? Can he protect her from her target’s daughter, the sadistic Veronica Rios-Ortega? Join Frank Swiver in the swift-moving story, Last Puffs.

Praise:

.5 out of 5 stars Wonderful Read – Easy and Fun
February 10, 2018
Format: Kindle Edition| Verified Purchase
Frank Swiver is a detective. Murder investigations are his specialty. He likes wine, loose women and fast cars. Not necessarily in that order. Swiver inhabits an earlier world that is archaic and, without doubt, politically incorrect by today’s standards. Harley Mazuk recreates in Swiver a character from another era whose story is fun and entertaining. Mazuk has an impressive knowledge of wines and cars which permeate his narrative. As to his knowledge of women, I am not competent to judge. I do know that the geography and time period portrayed is well researched. There are many twists and turns to the plot as well as an injection of espionage that keeps the reader guessing. Fans of old fashion detective novels will enjoy this book. I know, I did.
— Amazon Reviewer

Order Your Copy!

https://www.amazon.com/Mistress-Suffragette-Diana-Forbes-ebook/dp/B06XG3G2TF



Aragón, Spain, March 1938
There’d been a dusting of fresh snow in the high ground during the night, and the captain wanted our squad, which was nine men, to relieve an outpost on the crest of a hill, just up above the tree line. Max Rabinowitz took point, and I followed, climbing steadily. It was a cold, quiet morning, and we talked between ourselves about the ’38 baseball season, and whether we’d be back in the States to see any games.
“I would like to see Hank Greenberg and the Tigers play DiMaggio and the Yanks,” said Max. Max was dark-haired and rangy, and I always thought he looked a bit like Cary Grant, though now after a year in the field, there was nothing suave nor dapper in his appearance.
“How about Ted Williams?” I said. “We’ve already seen DiMaggio play in San Francisco with the Seals.”
“We saw Williams play with the Padres. Besides, he isn’t in the big leagues yet,” said Max.
“Yeah, but the Red Sox signed him.” I walked along just off Max’s shoulder. I was about the same height as Max, six feet, six-one, a little thinner, and looked at least as scruffy that morning. I wore a burgundy scarf around my head and ears, under a dirty and battered grey fedora. I scanned the virgin snow ahead of us with heavy-lidded eyes. The wind was faint, just enough to pick up a feathery wisp of snow in spots and spin it around. 
“He’s only about 19. I think they’ll keep him down on the farm for ’38.”
“I would like to see Bob Feller pitch to your boy Greenberg,” I told Max.
Smitty came up between us. “Feller throws 100 miles an hour, and he strikes out more than one per inning.”
“They say,” said Max, “he walks almost one an inning,”
“Keeps ‘em loose up there,” said Smitty, who was from Cleveland. “Hundred mile an hour heat and nobody knows where it’s going.”
As the three of us stepped out of the cover of the tree line, Smitty kind of hopped up on one leg and threw his arms out. I wondered what sort of a weird little dance that was; then I heard the automatic weapons fire coming down at us off the hill. It was a mechanical chatter, rather than gunpowder explosions, and the wind had blown the sound around the hills so that the bullets cut Smitty down before it had reached us. Branches near us started to snap off and tumble earthwards. Max hit the snow on his belly and rolled downhill to his right to get to cover behind a rock. I motioned for the others to get back into the trees, and dove into a low spot in the ground.
When we could look up, we saw that the fascists had overrun the outpost we’d been climbing up to the ridge to relieve, and the firing was coming from there. We returned fire. I heard cries in Spanish from behind me, a curse in a low voice, then a high-pitched prayer.
A potato-masher grenade came flipping end-over-end down the hill toward me. It seemed like slow motion. It hit a rock and bounced up. I could say a Hail Mary in about four seconds flat in those days, and I said one then. The grenade sailed over my head; I heard it explode, and felt a shower of dirt on my back. In front of me, Max was popping up and firing one round with his Springfield, then dropping behind the rock. I popped up and fired when he dropped down. I thought we were doing pretty well taking turns, but grenades kept arcing over our heads and bullets pinged into Max’s rock and raked the dirt beside me. Max tried lobbing one of his grenades towards the machine gun, but his throw was uphill, and he didn’t have an arm like DiMaggio.
After a few minutes of this, I tried to aim and squeeze the trigger instead of popping off quick shots. Then I didn’t hear anyone behind us firing anymore. I looked around and saw Rocco and Pete sprawled in the grass. I called to a couple of the others.
“Comrades…anyone…sound off.” Nada.
“Frank, this is bad,” Max yelled to me.
“I’d rather be facing Feller’s fastballs,” I told him. “Maybe it’s time for us to dust.” Then we heard an airplane motor. It grew louder, and the first plane, a Heinkel, zoomed over the ridge seconds later. Max had risen to his feet and was scrambling down the slope. He looked back over his shoulder at the plane just as a cannon shot from the aircraft hit the rock he’d been behind. The explosion flipped Max in mid-air and tossed him towards me. The ground under him ripped up and clods of dirt flew towards us.
The scene faded to black, but for how long, I don’t know. When I opened my eyes, I was facing the sky but I smelled the forest floor, earth and leaves. Truffles, perhaps? Max was on top of me, limp, and it was quiet. No planes, no shooting. “Max,” I said, “we gotta get up. Get off me.” I felt my voice in my head, but couldn’t hear it in my ears. Max didn’t get up. I rolled him over next to me, and saw that his hat was gone.  The top of his head and the right side of his face were a collage of blood and dirt. I shook him, and he gasped for breath, earth falling out of his nostrils. He was still alive.
“Frank, Frank. I can’t see. I can’t see.” It didn’t sound like Max, but there was no one else there.
“Easy, Max.” I tried to rinse some of the dirt, debris and blood off Max’s head with my canteen, then I ripped open a compress from my pack and put it over his forehead and eyes. I wrapped more dressing around his head to keep the bandage in place “Hold this on your face, man. Don’t try to open your eyes.” I was afraid his right eyeball was going to fall out. “Hold it tight.” Using the slope, I maneuvered him across my shoulder, head down in front of me, and struggled to my feet. I took off at a trot along the tree line.
Our lines were behind us to the east but it looked like the whole damned fascist army was charging down from the outpost, headed that way, so I ran south. It was downhill and my momentum carried us. The going was easy, but I felt panic building in my gut so I tried to slow down. I slid on the snow, fell on my butt, and slammed into a tree and dropped Max.
“Frank, where are you? Am I dyin’?”
“I got you, Max. You caught some shrapnel in the head from that plane. Say an act of contrition or something.”
“I’m a Jew, you idiot.”
“Say it anyway.” I lifted the gauze off his forehead and looked under it. His wound didn’t appear to be deep, but the right eye was very bad, all blood and pulp, and the bone around it may have been shattered. “Press on this, Max.” I pressed the bandage back against his face and put his hand on it. 
I hoisted him over my shoulder again, and stepped off, forcing myself to keep my pace steady and not too fast. We went on till the sun was high in the sky. I didn’t fall again, but my ankles were burning, and my toes were pinched in my boots from going downhill. I stopped twice, and opened our bota. I washed my mouth out with the wine, a rustic red from Calatayud, then I cradled Max’s head and opened his mouth. I squirted the wine in, squeezing the leather skin, the way I’d squeezed the trigger of my rifle. Max coughed. He seemed only half-conscious.
I carried Max down the hill and to the south, parallel to our lines, until we were deep in some woods. I was scared and it wasn’t easy, but I would have done anything for Max. We had been roommates and run around together at Berkeley. We fell out of touch when he went to law school, and I started drinking, trying to forget Cicilia. When Max re-connected with me in ’36, he tried to help me sober up and get back on my feet. I’d come around for a while, but always, I’d slip back into the abyss.
Max was a red, even back in our student days. I hadn’t been serious about my politics then. One evening to keep me from drowning my demons, Max took me to a meeting about the Spanish Civil War and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Before the night was over, we’d signed up to fight in Spain. Max didn’t have to. I think he did it to save me. Now I was going to save him.
When the sun dropped behind the hills, the woods quickly grew dark. There was a smell of pines, and the footing was better—no snow or ice on the ground, which was hard and covered with dry pine needles. Under the background din of war, the roar of artillery and airplanes, I heard water down to my left. I turned towards it and a few minutes later, came to a stream, probably flowing south to the Ebro. It wasn’t night yet, but it was so dark under the tall trees, I would have walked into the stream without seeing it if not for the sound of the water rushing over the rocks. I put Max down on his back, head and shoulders downhill toward the stream. The blood had dried; the gauze was stuck to his head. I scooped up water with my hat and poured it on his face. The icy cold shocked him into consciousness—and panic and pain.
“Morphine, Frank,” he moaned. “Gimme the morphine.” But I had used our morphine one night weeks ago on guard duty on a cold hillside. We did have a flask of Cardenal Mendoza Spanish Brandy, and I gave him some, then I drank. I rinsed his wound good and put a new bandage on it using Max’s kit this time. My legs felt weak and started to shake with cold or exhaustion. I don’t know if I could have stood up then if the Generalissimo had come down the hill waving his pistoles. We were down low, and there were some bare shrubs and young trees sheltering us on the uphill slope. I fought my exhaustion and tried to keep watch as long as I could. I had another swallow of brandy and pulled close to Max. My eyes closed, and I fell asleep.



Harley Mazuk was born in Cleveland, the last year that the Indians won the World Series. He majored in English literature at Hiram College in Ohio, and Elphinstone College, Bombay, India. Harley worked as a record salesman (vinyl) and later served the U.S. Government in Information Technology and in communications, where he honed his writing style as an editor and content provider for official web sites.

Retired now, he likes to write pulp fiction, mostly private eye stories, several of which have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. His first full length novel, White with Fish, Red with Murder, was released in 2017, and his newest, Last Puffs, just came out in January 2018.

Harley’s other passions are his wife Anastasia, their two children, reading, running, Italian cars, California wine and peace.

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