Red Rider explores the depths of revenge & the strength of human bonds #thriller from Gerrit Steenhagen #excerpt

July 19 Red Rider 8.25 x 10.565 print

Book title: Red Rider

Author: Gerrit Steenhagen

Genre: Thriller

Published: April 2nd, 2018

~ Blurb ~

A grieving father – known to the reader only as Teacher – takes on a new identity after the brutal murder of his teenaged son. Masquerading as a substitute teacher, he tracks down the killer – a high school senior – and methodically builds a web to entrap him. Teacher does not desire simple justice or death for the killer; he wants the killer to endure what his son endured. But Teacher’s plan takes a life-shattering turn when he must save his son’s former girlfriend from the clutches of the brutal MS-13 gang.

A taut, suspenseful thriller, Red Rider explores the depths of revenge and the strength of human bonds.

Grab a copy!


 ~ Excerpt ~

A priest once told him: “Tragedy teaches us life is short and there is no time for hate. Sometimes in tragedy we find our life’s purpose.”

He told the priest: “Life is long without my son and there is only time for hate. My life’s purpose is to avenge my son’s death.”

Sleeping inconvenienced him. Sleeping took time from hate. He spent his night in a cemetery, lying atop a grave, bare-chested. His pressed shirt was draped over the headstone. His head rested on a bulletproof vest. His eyes were open and catatonic. He could be dead.

His phone vibrated. He didn’t blink. His phone flashed an event: Henry’s birthday, April 20th, 4:05 a.m. His eyes dried out. His vision blurred. Tears were stimulated. He blinked.

He sat up and dismissed the event. His phone blinked the time: 4:06 a.m. He strapped the vest to his torso. His hands shook again. He pulled the pressed shirt from the headstone. The name and date on the headstone matched the name and date that had flashed across his phone. Henry would’ve been eighteen today.

He buttoned his shirt. A price tag dangled from the sleeve. He tugged at it, gone. He looked for more tags. One dangled from his waist. He tugged at it, gone. He stood.

A streetlight shone upon a red motorcycle. A red helmet hung from one handle grip, a satchel hung from the other. He straddled the motorcycle, slid on the helmet, harnessed the satchel to his shoulder, leaned into the seat, twisted the grips, tapped the clutch, and kick-started the bike.

~ About the Author ~

July 19 author pic

Gerrit Steenhagen grew up in San Diego, CA. He wrote, produced, and directed the indie drama If Tomorrow Comes. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

Author links:



Read an #excerpt of Vic Boyo, Doofus Detective in: Double Murders are Twice as Bad #mystery #humor from @mfowler76

July 17 - Vic Boyo - eBook Cover

Title: Vic Boyo, Doofus Detective in: Double Murders are Twice as Bad

Author: Milo James Fowler

Genre: Mystery/Screwball Comedy

Published: 2/27/2018

~ Blurb ~

Two murders. One detective. Half a brain.

1931, New York City: Detective Vic Boyo may not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but that doesn’t stop him from solving cases as only he can. With a little luck and a whole lot of gumption, Boyo sets out to find the murderer of a local cop. Problem is, Boyo’s more interested in a gorgeous femme fatale accused of killing her husband. She’s destined for the electric chair, but Boyo’s got a hunch she might be innocent. And nobody gets in the way of Boyo’s hunches, not even Vic Boyo himself.

 Grab a copy!

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

~ Excerpt ~

Things were quiet, and the hallway was dark. Shaking the wet collar of my trench coat, I reached to unlock the door and stopped. Because it was already open.

Yeah. Somebody was inside, and it wasn’t me.

“Welcome, Mr. Boyo,” came a gravel-coated voice from the impenetrable darkness of my living room. “Please do come in.”

I felt for the heater I always carried along with me, tucked safely into the waist of my pants. One of these days, I planned to spring for one of those swanky shoulder holsters, but that day hadn’t arrived yet.

Squinting into the dark, I shoved the door open.

“Close it, Boyo,” the same voice ordered.

“You forgot something,” I said.


“That’s Mr. Boyo to you. Whoever you are.” I shut the door and figured it was dark enough for my heater to make an appearance. Which it did, but I had to aim blindly. Never stopped me before. Hasn’t stopped me since. “Is the power out?”

“We feel safer in the dark. Don’t we, boys?” Deep chuckles came from opposite ends of the room.

Dang. They had me outnumbered.

Gravel-voice continued, “But if you’re an unfortunate victim of achluophobia—”

“Gesundheit,” I said.

“—then we’ll let you have your precious light.”

As soon as the corner lamp switched on, I got a good look at my uninvited guests. Three thugs in striped suits and felt hats held Tommy guns and stood around my sofa where their boss sat smoking a cigar with his feet up on my coffee table. The nerve of that guy. No manners whatsoever. He was a real big butterball and wore an expensive-looking white cotton suit. His thin grey hair was combed back and tucked into a derby as brown and fuzzy as a chestnut mare’s patootie.

I’d already slipped my heater back into the waist of my pants and covered the bulge with my coat. I knew better than to try my luck against those Tommy guns.

“Mind telling me what this is all about?” I said.

The fat man rose and cleared his throat, pointing at me with his stogie. “Tomorrow morning, you’ll be put on the Merryface case.”

“How could you possibly know that?”

“Shut your trap, Boyo, and let me do the talking. I’ve got connections, see? If you’re smart, you’ll refuse. That is, if you plan to be alive this time tomorrow night, you’ll turn the case down and find something healthier to do. Healthier for you, that is. ”

“You make a habit of threatening cops?”

“I make a habit of telling idiots what’s what.” He motioned to his boys and they approached me en masse, heading for the door. “Joey. Give Mr. Boyo a little taste of what’s in store for him.”

“What’s that, Boss?” said one of the gun-toting thugs.

“Give him a glimpse of the bright future that awaits if he doesn’t play ball.”

“Uh…” The thug scratched at his head, obviously at a loss.

The fat man sighed, shaking his head as he regarded the carpet for a moment.  “When you want something done right…” he trailed off.

Then he plowed his fist into my solar plexus, and I doubled over, almost positive the room had capsized. With a groan, I dropped to my knees, straining to breathe.

“Let that be a lesson to you, Boyo. Do the right thing, and nobody gets hurt. Including yourself.” They tromped out of my place and slammed the door shut behind them. Their heavy footfalls echoed down the hallway outside, fading into the distance.

“Good riddance,” I wheezed, stumbling forward to turn the lock.

~ About the Author ~

July 17 - FowlerBioPic

Milo James Fowler is a teacher by day and a speculative fictioneer by night. When he’s not grading papers, he’s imagining what the world might be like in a dozen alternate realities. So far, his short fiction has appeared in more than 150 publications, including AE SciFi, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Cosmos, Daily Science Fiction, Nature, and Shimmer. Find his novels, novellas, and short story collections wherever books are sold. Milo is represented by the Zack Company. ​

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Spotlight on Black Queen White City from @ConcerningSonya #literaryfantasy #excerpt

Black Queen White City is positively cinematic…the novel is undeniably the product of an immensely fertile imagination brimming with confidence.
…rather like the superhero films of today, different people will enjoy different aspects.”
Jack Messenger, author and book reviewer

 Adobe Photoshop PDF

Book title: Black Queen, White City

Series: The White City Cycle, can be read as a standalone

Author: Sonya Kudei

Genre: Contemporary Literary Fantasy

Published: Trierarchy, 16 April 2018

~ Blurb ~

Set in contemporary Zagreb, Croatia (the “White City” of folklore), Black Queen, White City is inspired by local myths and legends as well as drawing on an eclectic mix of influences, including Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Pratchett and Gaiman’s Good Omens, Dante’s The Divine Comedy, C.G. Jung, superhero comics and classic 1980s movies.

Leo Solar is a star daimon, a celestial being with powers so vast that he can literally blow up a sun (but not in a bad way – it’s all perfectly safe). This is why when he gets sent to Earth, more specifically, his least favorite part of it (Zagreb) with curtailed powers to undertake a dangerous frustrating mission, he is not the happiest star daimon in town.

Dario is a twenty-something former Zagreb University student whose search for meaning is continuously thwarted by the demands of his eccentric landlady. After he accidentally meets a mysterious stranger in a starry outfit who goes around town battling monsters from the Underworld, Dario’s life suddenly takes an interesting turn, and he soon finds himself caught in a flurry of action that includes the celestial realm above, a hidden magic realm below and the erstwhile ordinary Zagreb somewhere in between.

Stella is an 11-year-old girl whose dungeon-like school on the outskirts of East Zagreb is a bit of an evil magnet. One day she plays a creepy playground game with group of school friends, which inadvertently awakens the spirit of the fabled Black Queen, who, unbeknownst to the townspeople, still dwells in a deep enchanted chasm under Zagreb’s very own Bear Mountain.

The Celestial Realm (a.k.a. “outer space”) is a place where star daimons with enormous powers and questionable hairstyles perform valiant deeds in order to maintain the balance of the universe, while engaging in petty inter-stellar squabbles and meddling with the affairs of Earth.

All of these people, places and fictional constructs come together in an action-packed over-caffeinated culmination on October 31, colloquially referred to by locals as the Night of the Witches.

Also making an appearance are magic trams, football hooligans, belligerent egg-sellers, jaded small dogs, miniature monks, seductive snake-women and sadistic primary school teachers.

Read the first two chapters online:

~ Grab a copy! ~

Author website ~ Amazon

~ Excerpt ~

In a hidden corner of the east flank of Central Europe (or the west flank of Eastern Europe, depending on your point of view), in a green valley of a winding river, there is a city that certain locals, during rare moments of inspiration, refer to as the White City, although the less poetically inclined, as well as those who don’t know anything about the place other than that it exists, call it Zagreb.

This is not the kind of noisy, hectic city that makes people stressed, obese, prone to rants about the accelerating pace of modern life, and likely to have a mid-career breakdown followed by an extensive backpacking trip to a remote country. If anything, it is fairly sober and subdued. If the White City were a character in a Regency novel, it would be one of those comely, level-headed types that ends up marrying the parson.

Neither is it the sort of city that just goes on and on until it becomes another city. Its shape and size are clearly delineated. There is a sprawling east-west axis and a somewhat stunted north-south one. The latter is due to the presence of a fairly high mountain on the city’s north side and a river in the south. The mountain, although not the comes-with-a-permanent-ice-cap sort of high, is still high enough to have cable cars, organized hiking trips and squirrels. And the river, although not an insurmountable obstacle in itself, has proved to be such a convenient barrier against various third parties that have attempted to invade the city over the course of many historical periods that the townspeople have been reluctant to cross it until very recently.

~ About the author ~

July 16 2018 sonya-kudei

Sonya Kudei is a writer and artist with a BA in English Language and Literature and MA in Cognitive Linguistics. Her writing has been featured in The Atlantic Online and The Linguist Magazine. She has worked as a journalist, illustrator, graphic designer, subtitle translator, editor, teacher, product manager and (very briefly) tourist guide in Venice. She was also a web developer in London for over five years. Originally from Zagreb, Sonya has been living in the UK for over twelve years.

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My review of The Road, the 2007 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction #MondayBlogs #PulitzerPrize #PulitzerPrizeChallenge #AmReading #BookReview

the road 3

I forgot to take a picture of the bookstore, so here’s the bookmark. 

I’m skipping to 2007 today with my Pulitzer Prize Challenge. I have a good excuse for skipping around – really, I do! I totally screwed up when I chose books to take on vacation. I only took one novel from my pile of Pulitzer Prize winners as I assumed I’d only get one read. WRONG! I read Less during one flight and still had two weeks of vacation to go! While exploring an independent bookstore in Franklin, Tennessee, I picked up The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I just had to buy a book to support the bookstore, and this was the only Pulitzer Prize winner I could find that I didn’t own. (The store was not specialized in fiction. I only managed to find The Road as McCarthy is considered a local boy in Tennessee.)




the road 1The Road is another novel I would never have purchased on my own. I don’t enjoy postapocalyptic novels (and not just because I can’t spell or pronounce a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-t-i-c.) But once I got into the story, I couldn’t put the book down. I was filled with questions: What happened to the world? Who are those roving gangs? Is the boy really his son? What happened to his wife? I kept flipping through pages faster and faster, hoping to find the answers.

If you’re looking for a book that wraps everything up in a neat little bow at the end, this is not the book for you. This is a book, which forces you to think. I finished this book on a flight from Dallas to New York two weeks ago, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Unfortunately, these are not happy thoughts – not surprising considering the novel is postapocalyptic.

McCarthy’s style of writing takes some time to get used to. His lack of punctuation – according to McCarthy, semicolons and quotation marks are mere little marks that blot the page – was confusing as all get out. The internal editor in me was going out of her mind while I read this novel. Luckily, at some point she had a complete hissy fight and shut up.

In addition to learning that award-winning authors can write their own grammar rules, I discovered – to my utter surprise – that I would not survive a postapocalyptic world. McCarthy describes in detail how the protagonist finds and prepares ‘food’. Food is in question marks as I’m not sure I could stomach – literally – the things the protagonist ate. If the food choice didn’t do me in, the work involved in finding food, using makeshift tools, and finding fuel would have finished me off. That’s before taking the weather, roving gangs, and all that walking into consideration.

I would have never thought a novel singularly focused on a man and his son walking a road would pull me in. (I assumed I was going to have to force myself to read this novel.) It’s a testament to the talent of McCarthy that I was utterly and completely captivated by The Road. This is a must read and in the running for best novels I’ve read in 2018.

the road 2

I’m now reading All The Light We Cannot See from Anthony Doeer. I promise I will NOT be finished with the novel by next week (It’s my birthday this weekend!), but I do have an adventure related to the novel I will share with you next week.



A Confederate spy in love with a Union officer, her next decision will determine whether she lives or dies ~ Whipporwill by R.L. Bartram #historicalromance

July 9.2

Book title: Whippoorwill

Author: R.L. Bartram

Genre: Historical Romance

Published: Troubador Nov 28th, 2017

~ Blurb ~

Barely fourteen, Ceci Prejean is a tom boy running wild in the hot Louisiana summer. After breaking the nose of a local boy, her father decides to enlist the aid of Hecubah, a beautiful creole woman, with a secret past, who takes her in hand and turns her into a lady.

Now eighteen, Ceci meets and falls passionately in love with handsome young northerner, Trent Sinclaire. Trent is a cadet at the West Point military academy. He acts as if he knows Ceci. They begin a torrid affair, even as the southern states begin to secede from the Union.

Only weeks before their wedding the Confederate army attacks Fort Sumter and the civil war begins. Trent is called to active service in the north leaving Ceci heartbroken in the south.

Swearing vengeance on the Union, after the death of her family at the fall of New Orleans, Ceci meets with infamous spymaster, Henry Doucet. He initiates her into the shadowy world of espionage.

Infiltrating the White House, Ceci comes face to face with Abraham Lincoln, a man she’s sworn to kill. Forming a reckless alliance with the actor John Wilkes Booth, she is drawn deeper into the plot to assassinate the President of the United States. A Confederate spy in love with a Union officer, he next decision will determine whether she lives or dies.

Grab a copy!

 Amazon ~ Troubador

 ~ Excerpt ~

Trent was lucky. The Confederate musket ball that was intended to kill him merely grazed his brow. He lurched violently back in his saddle. His horse reared wildly, throwing him, unconscious to the ground, directly into the path of his own cavalry advancing only yards behind him.

At the far end of the field, Sergeant Nathanial Pike and his men, engaged in the hasty formation of a skirmish line, watched helplessly as the scene unfolded. As Trent hit the ground, a Confederate soldier appeared out of the shadows. Small and slight, little more than a boy, he lunged forwards, grabbed the officer by the lapels of his coat and dragged him out of the path of the galloping horses. Throwing himself across the man’s prone body, he shielded him from the pounding hooves. The cavalry thundered past oblivious, in the half-light, to the fate of their captain.

As the danger passed, the rebel rose to his knees and appeared to search the unconscious man.

“God damn thieving rebs,” Pike snatched his pistol from its holster, his thumb wrenching back the hammer. Before he could take aim, the rebel stopped searching. He leaned forwards and, cradling the officer’s face in his hands, bent down and kissed him, full on the lips, long and hard. Pike’s pistol, arm and jaw dropped simultaneously.

Something, some noise, some movement, made the rebel look up and glance furtively around. He jumped to his feet and, with a final backwards glance at the fallen man, melted into the shadows, like a wraith.

It was some moments before Pike’s jaw snapped shut, his teeth meeting with an audible click. He rounded on his men. “Did you see what I just saw?” he demanded.

His question was answered with shrugs and scowls. Not one man there could swear he hadn’t dreamed it. Then suddenly, they heard it, far off, plaintive and eerie, the cry of a whippoorwill.

~ About the Author ~

July 9.1

With historical romance as his preferred genre, Robert has continued to write for several years. Many of his short stories have appeared in various national periodicals and magazines.

His debut novel “Dance the Moon Down”, a story of love against adversity during the First World War, gained him considerable critical praise, being voted book of the month by “Wall to Wall Books”.

His second novel “Whippoorwill” tells of a passionate affair between a young southern woman and a northern man at the beginning of the American Civil War.

He is single and lives and works in Hertfordshire.




My review of Less, the 2018 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction #MondayBlogs #PulitzerPrize #PulitzerPrizeChallenge #AmReading #BookReview

less reviewI’m back from my vacation (boo!) during which I managed to read two Pulitzer Prize winning novels (Less and The Road). Long flights are ideal reading time – at least to me – the hubby likes to watch movie after movie unless he’s wrapped up like a mummy sleeping. I finished Less on my flight to the U.S. Although I’ve had nearly three weeks to think about this review, I’m still unsure about how I would rate the novel.

Less is a difficult novel for me to review as I’d never have picked this novel up if it weren’t for my Pulitzer Prize Challenge. The description didn’t interest me much. Here’s the blurb direct from Amazon:

Less blurb

As a woman approaching fifty at the speed of light and a writer who has yet to meet success, I’m not interested in reading about someone else having the same sort of problems I am. Frankly, it sounds rather depressing. But reviewers better than myself have promised I’ll find the novel ‘bedazzling’, ‘hilarious’, ‘unexpectedly funny’, and all other sorts of glowing descriptions. While I didn’t hate Less, I certainly wasn’t bedazzled.

Let’s start with Arthur Less himself. I don’t dislike Less, but I can’t say I liked him either, because it feels as if there’s nothing there. He’s just bumbling around as if he doesn’t know his own mind. Somehow, amidst this bumbling, he always lands in someone’s bed. It doesn’t appear as if he needs to make any efforts whatsoever to find a bed buddy. This typifies Arthur’s character. He doesn’t actually plan anything, and somehow just ends up in a different place. For someone who sets an alarm to make sure she’s never late for an appointment, Less was a baffling man.

My sense of humor may need an update as well, as I didn’t find the novel hilarious or funny. There were a few scenes when he was in Berlin, which did cause me to snicker a bit. I enjoyed the witty remarks about Arthur’s proficiency in German (spoiler alert: he wasn’t proficient at all). My most common response to the novel was not a snicker but a sigh as Less found himself in another unexpected but somehow predictable situation. *Sigh*

My biggest issue with the novel was the point of view. It was rather disruptive. At times, the narrator would tell us insights about Less, and then the narrator would disappear for a few chapters – only to reappear when I’d forgotten about him. I found it annoying. We don’t learn who the narrator is until the end of the novel (although it’s not exactly a surprise).

At some point, I did find myself reading faster and faster as I needed Less’s situation to be resolved. He couldn’t continue to flounce around the world forever! He couldn’t re-write his novel until the end of time! Luckily, Less is resolved at the end with a neat little bow.

Next week, I’ll be reviewing The Road from Cormac McCarthy.


The Dutch response to non-Dutch speaking Dutch ~ Thoughts on Less from Andrew Sean Greer #MondayBlogs #PulitzerPrizeChallenge #PulitzerPrize #amreading

less book coverI was still stuck in editing hell last week and didn’t have much time for reading. Oh, the horror! As we’re leaving on vacation soon, I did make time for a hair appointment and pedicure. Priorities! Luckily, my hair takes several hours to color (I went with bright, red highlights), which gave me at least some time I had to read last week.

Although I’ve found Less a bit difficult to dive into, I enjoyed the segment I read last week while Less was in Germany. Arthur Less thinks he’s fluent in German. He’s not. But he must be hilarious to listen to. The jokes Greer shared with us were hilarious, especially for someone like me who speaks German (hopefully, better than Less does!). The Germans Less encountered were very tolerant of his language skills. In fact, only as a sort of epilogue did anyone even mention his language skills (or lack thereof). This, of course, reminded me of speaking Dutch in The Netherlands.

board-64269_1920The Dutch, unlike the Germans in Greer’s book, have no compunction about correcting the Dutch of non-native speakers. One the one hand, they are super excited if someone tries to speak their language. But, on the other hand, they actually discourage this by switching to English and brutally correcting mistakes. Most foreigners I know don’t bother to learn Dutch. “Why bother,” they say. “Everyone speaks English anyway.”

This reminded me of a story. Several years ago, I was working in Amsterdam. The city was overrun by tourists as the European Cup was jointly hosted that year by The Netherlands and Belgium. I worked in the center (on the Prinsengracht, if you must know). One day, I headed to the bakery to get a sandwich for lunch. A horde of English tourists left the store as I was entering. When I walked in, the workers immediately began to complain about the tourists to me – the Foreigner! It was at that moment I knew my Dutch was up to snuff.

We’re off on two weeks of vacation tomorrow. I have Less packed in my carry-on baggage and plan to finish the novel on the plane ride. That’s assuming I don’t become obsessed with the movies. It’s a concern.

See y’all in three weeks!

On Vacation 2