Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Blog Tour: Killer Image by Wendy Tyson



Title: Killer Image
Author: Wendy Tyson
Publisher: Henery Press
Pages: 324
Language: English
Genre: Mystery/Psychological Thriller
Format: Paperback ($14.96) & eBook ($2.99)

Purchase at AMAZON

As Philadelphia’s premier image consultant, Allison Campbell helps others reinvent themselves, but her most successful transformation was her own after a scandal nearly ruined her. Now she moves in a world of powerful executives, wealthy, eccentric ex-wives and twisted ethics.

When Allison’s latest Main Line client, the fifteen-year-old Goth daughter of a White House hopeful, is accused of the ritualistic murder of a local divorce attorney, Allison fights to prove her client’s innocence when no one else will. But unraveling the truth brings specters from her own past. And in a place where image is everything, the ability to distinguish what’s real from the facade may be the only thing that keeps Allison alive.

Book Excerpt:

It started to drizzle. Cold, steely drops that threatened to morph into sleet. The rain hit Allison’s windshield, slithered in rivulets to the corners, and turned to ice, so that she had to scrunch down and squint to see the road. She fingered the envelope that sat on the seat next to her. Her head ached.
Home. She turned the word around on her tongue, flipped it backward and forward, and swirled it around until the nausea passed. At home lived a different Allison.  Fat ankles. Uneven bangs. A preference for peanut butter right from the jar.
“Self-reinvention is the key to survival,” Mia had told her when she was first hired by her mentor’s image-consulting firm. “In this line of work and in life.”
“Yeah, right. There’s no escaping the past,” Allison had wanted to say in response. But she’d been twenty-five, poor, and disillusioned. Funny how an empty bank account can make one into a believer.
And so she’d Jennifer Aniston-ed her hair and painted her lips and learned the difference between Gucci and Prada, first for herself and then for her clients. She traded her third-floor studio in Ardmore for a two-story townhouse in Wayne and learned to navigate ten courses worth of silverware. Eventually she married Jason, her mentor’s son, a man with a nice, normal American surname and then divorced him, keeping the name as a booby prize. Chalupowski would have looked awful on a book jacket.
At times, she missed the old Allison. She missed the energy of idealism and the ease with which someone who has nothing can move through the world. She knew this new life was based on the perpetuation of a lie, of a million little daily lies. But the lies, if told often enough and with enough enthusiasm, could become truth.
Just look at her.
Allison kept one hand still on the steering wheel and used the other to peel back the flap of the envelope. Wedged between the stiff edges of her mother’s official documents sat the sickly yellow of an old newspaper clipping. She knew without touching it, without reading the bold-lettered headline, what it said. Man Drives over Embankment in Apparent Homicide/Suicide Attempt. Her father. Her mother. And over twenty years later, the pain still blanketed her like a low-lying fog.
She pushed the article back into the packet. Miraculously, her parents had lived through the ordeal with few serious injuries, but the emotional wounds had never really healed. Your mother has Alzheimer’s, Allison, her father had said back then, as though that simple fact explained everything. It’ll be uphill from here. So the years before that, the mom-has-a-migraine-and-is-in-her-bedroom-make-us-some-dinner-watch-your-sister-Allison years, were the easy ones?
Allison shook her head. The contents of that envelope didn’t tell the full story any more than a pile of individual timbers resembled a finished house. Where were the court hearings, the social workers with their shopworn empathy and mind-fuck questions, the belt beatings, the experimental drugs and doctors’ visits and furtive glances when the electricity went off because no one had paid the bill?
The rain stopped.
Allison flicked off her wipers and made a left onto her parents’ street. Tiny ranch house after tiny ranch house, all with tiny yards and chain-link fences. She pulled up to their home, behind a grit-sprayed Ford. From the outside, nothing much had changed. Same peach-colored stucco, same white stone-filled flower beds, same crumbling walkway. Though it was nearly spring, a woven-wicker doe and fawn, leftover Christmas decorations, remained in the front yard. The doe lay on her side. The fawn stood over her, as though in mourning.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Killer Image Tour Page:


Blog Tour: Always and Forever by S.P.Cervantes


Twin sisters Ava and Hannah were ripped from their peaceful seeming lives into a whirlwind of attacks and war only to learn the real truth about their existence.

Nothing was as it seemed anymore and may never be again. They had already lost their father in childhood now they have to cope with their mother’s kidnapping as they watch those sworn to protect them risk their lives.





Excerpt:
Ava
““Listen, you had better get back home. I will walk you out of the woods, but you should not come here at night anymore, it is not safe.” he said.

Just then I realized that he was not from Bricktown, not even New Jersey. It sounded like he had an Irish accent just like my mother’s. His words flowed off of his tongue like a gentle stream.

“Thank-you for your concern, but I am familiar with this area. I’ll be fine. Where are you from anyway? I haven’t seen you here before,” I asked.

I don’t know why I didn’t feel more scared of this stranger who acted so curiously. He had the opposite effect on me making me very calm.

“I am visiting family. My name is Dalton.” He answered shortly and grabbed my arm and started to lead me back through the forest. His grip on my arms sent unexpected chills through my body.”


S.P Cervantes lives in Orange County, California with her husband and three children, where she is a teacher.  She enjoys spending time with her family, writing, reading, and running, but is always thinking of an idea for her next novel.  

S.P. Cervantes is the author of the highly rated New Adult Romantic Fantasy series Secrets of Shadow Hill.  “Always and Forever” and “The Prophecy” are the first two book in the series that are available now.  The third book in the series, “War of Wizards”  will be released in 2014.

S.P. Cervantes also has a contemporary romance series, A Broken Fairy Tale, in the works and will be releasing the first book of the series, “Dust to Dust (A Broken Fairy Tale)” in spring of 2014.

To connect with S.P. Cervantes:
Author Website:  http://www.spcervantes.com/




Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review: In The Beginning by London Miller

Title: In The Beginning (Volkov Bratva series book one)
Author: London Miller
Rating: 5/5 Bottles
Amazon / Goodreads

SYNOPSIS: Twenty-year-old Lauren Thompson left her small town in Michigan to begin a new life in the Big Apple where no one knows her name or the tragedy that had rocked her family fifteen years prior. With new friends and an intriguing new love interest, starting over is easier than she expected...but Mishca Volkov isn't what he seems. As the son of a Russian Mob boss, he thrives in a world of chaos and fear, earning the title of Bratva Captain through blood and pain. 

When the two cross paths, lines blur and passions ignite, bringing them closer than they could ever imagine. Until secrets from the past threaten to tear them apart. Can they fight past their demons...or were they doomed by fate before they ever met. 

REVIEW: At the age of five Lauren Miller witnessed her father, Doctor Cameron Miller, being murdered. Traumitized by the event, Lauren blocked out the memories of that night. Fifteen years later, Lauren is striking out on her own on the streets of New York City – a far cry from Michigan. Starting a new life – a new college, a new job, and new friends – Lauren meets a guy that for the first time she is genuinely interested in.

Although Mischa seems like the perfect guy he has skeletons in his closet and lives a life that could inevitably hurt Lauren. Trying to balance the two sides of himself and his life, Mischa works hard to make sure Lauren never discovers the truth.

When the truth finally comes out though who will be left standing? Can love survive a betrayal as big as this one?

London Miller has wrote a wonderful book that has twists and turns that you never see coming. I loved the characters and how in depth both Lauren and Mischa was along with the two points of view.

I look forward to seeing where this series will lead and what is in store for both Lauren and Mischa.

In The Beginning is definitely worth a FIVE bottle rating!

*In The Beginning was provided by the author, London Miller, in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Blog Tour + First Chapter Reveal - Closet Full of Coke by Indrea Sena



Title: Closet Full of Coke
Author: Indra Sena
Publisher: Indra Sena
Pages: 294
Language: English
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback & eBook

Purchase at AMAZON
Narrated by the teenage girl who lived it, Closet Full of Coke tells the true story of how a New York suburban fifteen-year-old girl's savvy and wit helps turn the small-time drug business of Armando, a Colombian drug dealer, into a multi-million-dollar cocaine operation that puts them on the DEA's Wanted List.

This intimate diary gives readers a fast-paced glimpse of the couple’s speedy rise to riches, and their inevitable descent.

These wannabe drug lords of the 1980s New York-to-Florida drug scene end their story only three years later with an untimely death, betrayal, and revenge.

Here is a true account of drug dealers whose obsession with money, power, sex, and glamour drives them to a lifestyle of deceit and recklessness, ending in tragedies that destroy lives forever.

About the Author:

You can visit Indra Sena’s website at www.closetfullofcoke.com. Indra is currently working on her second memoir. It covers two years in her twenties, where she joined the Rainbow Family and traveled the US and abroad.

Her latest book is the memoir, Closet Full of Coke.
Connect & Socialize with Indra


First Chapter:
 One
January 1984
Age 15

Mesc: A misnomer for tiny, hallucinogenic, purple pills. Mesc is short for the word mescaline, a reference to peyote cactus. The pills do not contain peyote. They are made from low-potency LSD and fillers.

Buy: A wholesale purchase of drugs by a drug dealer.

“You looking for someone?”
I was standing on the porch of my dealer’s house, anxiously ringing the doorbell. I turned around to see a thirtysomething Latino man standing behind me. I hadn’t heard him come up the porch steps. He was sleek, and his dark eyes were captivating. His remarkably handsome face was framed by glossy black hair brushed neatly back. He appeared regal in a full-length gray wool coat topped with a flowing black scarf, and shiny black leather shoes.
“I’m here to see Jamal.” I pushed my hands deep into the pockets of my black leather jacket.
“No one is home.” He spoke slowly in heavily accented English. “You are looking for something, ? I can help you.” The cadence of his voice had a slight hypnotic effect on me.
He kept his dark eyes locked on me. I turned and walked across the decaying porch planks of the sprawling Victorian house to peer into the kitchen window. It did seem unusually quiet.
I was there to make a buy. I’d been hitchhiking to this house for two years, since I was thirteen, buying mesc to sell to my suburban classmates. The Lincoln brothers—all six of them—lived, turned tricks, and dealt drugs here. I often sat in the shadows of the living room silently watching the freak show; businessmen in smart suits arriving to pay for sex with black men wearing full drag, teenage girl streetwalkers in miniskirts buying pills, and hollow-eyed junkies sweating and panting for heroin.
When I came to make a buy, I would sit on the red velvet couch smoking Marlboros while the oldest, Jamal, counted out dozens of tiny purple pills on the coffee table.
 “Here you go, girlfriend,” he’d say while tossing me a miniature plastic bag containing the pills, “now you gots to pay your daddy.” Then he’d flash a wide, disarming grin while flipping the blue feather boa he often wore over his shoulder.
I’d take wads of bills out of my purse that were mostly singles (the lunch money my classmates paid me with) and hand them to him.
When I’d stand and announce that I was leaving, he’d jump up and give me a juicy kiss goodbye. He always flirted with me, but not in a serious way. It was more like he was teasing me.
He’d say something like, “Girl, you so fine. We should hang out together some night.”
I knew he was joking, but I still had a crush on him. He was tall and stately, and he looked like an athlete with his muscular physique. I thought he was gorgeous.
Living as an unsupervised teenager, I stumbled into drug dealing. At first, I bought my drugs from high school seniors I partied with, and then re-sold them to my peers in middle school for a profit. But then I met Jamal at a liquor store near his house where I went to buy cheap wine with fake ID. He was charming. We formed an instant bond, and when he took me to his house full of lava lamps, colored beaded curtains, and velvet furniture, I thought it was the coolest place I’d ever seen. I began hitchhiking there regularly to buy all of my drugs from him.
The Lincoln brothers’ house was always full of people, mostly hookers and junkies. I found them intriguing, especially the girl hookers who were my age. I became friends with two of them. They called themselves Spicy and BJ, and they were always forking their hard-earned cash over to their boyfriends—wanna be pimps with needle bruises covering their scrawny arms.
Spicy and BJ told me countless stories of sex for profit. Sex with toothless old men, or with men so fat they had to climb on top of them by stepping on a folding chair. And sex with shoe-fetishists who masturbated while the girls pranced around rank hotel rooms in high heels. They were always bumming cigarettes off me, and asking men for spare change as we walked down the street together.
I couldn’t quite understand their choice to hook. As a dealer, there was no sex with sleazy men for a twenty-dollar bill, and no pimp to take that bill away. I lived like royalty. Everyone wanted to be my friend. I was phoned constantly, sought out between classes by kids camping in front of my locker, saved the best seat on the school bus, and stalked by the Jonesers; those ghosts who think of nothing but getting high.
When I focused on something, I tended to excel. I thought about being a lawyer, or a teacher, but I was afraid I would never fit into the normal world. When I spoke of college, my mother, Joan, sarcastically called me a dreamer. She suggested I clean houses instead.

The stranger extended a gloved hand towards me. “Come with me,” he said, and flashed a movie star smile. “I’m Armando.”
I took his hand and walked down the porch steps holding it, teetering slightly on the stiletto heels of my black suede boots. When we reached the pavement, I jerked my hand away.
“Where are you taking me?”
“For a ride.”
Taking a deep breath, I stared expressionless at him. “No, I’m sorry, I can’t. I don’t know you.”
“Ah, but I know you. I saw you leaving here once, and I asked Jamal about you. You are the gringa who comes from the country to buy mesc.” He placed his hand on my arm, and I knew I was going with him.
“Come with me to pick some up and I will give you the best deal,” he said.
I followed him along the sidewalk. I thought he was the most charming man I’d ever met. I flirted with him, smiling and twisting a long dark curl with my finger while we walked.
I suspected Armando was Jamal’s supplier. Going over your dealer’s head to his dealer is considered a loathsome crime of loyalty. I loved Jamal, but my ambition had long outweighed my loyalty; I had gone over my dealer’s head before. Besides, I didn’t go looking for Jamal’s supplier. I just got lucky.
Armando stopped walking. He stepped off the curb and opened the driver side door of a brown El Camino, and then pulled the beige front seat forward. He motioned for me to get in. A typical Hispanic car, I thought. The Virgin Mary statue glued to the dashboard completed the stereotype.
Sliding into the backseat, I noticed a girl up front holding a baby. Her shiny black hair, pulled tightly back with an elastic band, fell to her waist. She looked about my age.
“This is Lourdes, she does not speak too much English.”
Hola, mucho gusto.” I fumbled to speak the tiny bit of Spanish I knew.
She replied in rapid-fire Spanish.
I interrupted her. “Un poquito.”
“The little you speak is good,” Armando said. “I’ll teach you. Do not learn from her, she is Puerto Rican. She butchers my language.”
“Is that your baby?”
“Yes. José. He is one year.”
Armando started the car, and then jerked it quickly away from the curb forcing us all to lurch. The unexpected slide across the seat sent me slamming into the door. As we drove, Lourdes clutched her baby to her chest. I held onto the headrest in front of me.
He soon careened onto the interstate and floored the gas, weaving in and out of narrow lanes, passing cars on both sides without signaling, and honking his horn in frustration. He yelled and cursed in Spanish while angrily tailgating every car in his path.
I had never seen anyone drive like this before. A man I once talked to in a bar told me people in other countries drive really crazy. He was from Egypt, and he said there were no traffic lights there. Maybe Armando had only just come to America?
“Where are we going?” I hoped talking to him would distract him, maybe slow him down. It only made things worse as he looked over his shoulder to talk to me without braking.
“114th Street.”
“You mean the city?”
“No, Manhattan.”
“That is the city, and it’s over two hours away! Why are we going there?”
“To get mesc. That’s what you want, sí?”
“Yeah, but I didn’t plan on being away for hours.”
I had hitchhiked to Jamal’s straight from school. My sister Seely, who was only thirteen, was home alone with no one to watch her. Our mother had been sleeping at her new boyfriend’s house almost every night. We had friends who came over to drink and drug with us daily, so she probably had company, but I didn’t want to disappear on her for hours.
“I’m gonna give it to you cheap, muchacha
Half the price you pay the Lincoln brothers. I’m getting you a hundred hits for seventy dollars.”
I was thrilled. I immediately began calculating the increased profits in my head. But dealers, like poker players, must always hide their true feelings. I remained stoic. He glanced at my expressionless face in the rearview mirror. I glared at him. “If you don’t fucking kill us, cabrón. You drive like a crazy man, slow down.” I looked over his shoulder at the speedometer. It was punched to eighty-five. “Slow the fuck down or let me outta this car!”
Armando laughed. “Okay, chica, I’ll try, but you are mine now.”
His gentle bullying annoyed me. I would never be his—or anyone’s, especially not for a crummy handful of drugs, not even for a million dollars.
I sat back and rummaged through my purse. It contained a small notebook where I kept my drug books and wrote poems, and a small silk bag with pearl-colored rosaries my grandmother had given me. I also carried two makeup cases. One was a black case housing cherry red lipstick, black eyeliner, powder, and a battery powered lighted mirror, and the other was a pink case that functioned as a stash bag with marijuana, rolling papers, and small glass cigarette holder inside.
“Can I smoke pot?” I asked.
“Sure, it is okay. Just relax.” Armando switched on a Spanish pop station and blasted the tinny music.
I rolled a perfect joint. I placed it in the cigarette holder and lit it, deeply inhaling the thick smoke. No one wanted any so I smoked alone, occasionally leaning forward to survey the speedometer.
When we reached the city, it was night.
“Armando, where are we?”
“Spanish Harlem.”
He parallel parked along the curb, and then jumped out of the car telling us to lock the doors. I felt nervous as I watched him walk to the corner, turn, and vanish.
I had heard of Harlem, as in the Harlem Globetrotters. Other than that, it meant nothing to me. At home, I hung out in what was called “Spanish Town.” Spanish Harlem looked a lot like it with its painted brick townhouses, and tiny stores lining the streets with signs advertising Lotería and Licor de malta along with flashing red and yellow lights circling the windows.
Lourdes and I struggled to converse, then politely gave up. I wished I spoke Spanish so I could ask her about Puerto Rico. Instead, I passed the time by watching the people walking by. There were girls swathed in rabbit fur with high, tight ponytails and huge gold hoop earrings, and young men in parkas walking in small groups talking animatedly. Occasionally I’d see a solitary figure walking briskly, seemingly coaxed by the cold wind.
I was drawn to Latin culture: the exotic sounding Spanish words spoken so rapidly, the spicy food, the garish décor, and the candles with the Saints on them. When I was twelve, I liked a boy named Jimmy Martinez. I gave him my number and he called me while I was out. My mother answered the phone and while taking a message, she asked his name.
“Don’t you know you can’t date spicks?” She began yelling as soon as I came through the front door.
“Why not?” I asked.
“’Cause, you go wich your own kind. You can’t date any boys unless they’re the same as you.”
I went out with Jimmy anyway. I liked brown skin, melodic accents, and jet-black hair.

Armando finally returned with small bags full of steaming hot food. “These are empanadas, we eat them in Colombia all the time. You have never tasted anything so good.” We ate the hot yellow pastries filled with spiced beef out of grease-stained paper bags.
 I said that I needed to call my sister. Armando nodded and then drove slowly down the street, pulling over when he spotted a phone booth. He offered me some change. I jumped out of the car clutching a handful of dimes and was soon pushing dirty buttons with my black leather gloves.
“Seely? Were you asleep?” She sounded groggy.
“Nah, I’m just fucked up.” She then burst into laughter. “Where the fuck are you, you never came home after school?”
“I had to leave town, I’ll be back around eleven. Are you okay? Did ma call?”
“I’m alright, just hangin’ out with Jack. Ma never called tonight.”
“Cool.” I was relieved she was with Jack, her boyfriend for almost a year.
“Where are you, sissy?” Seely always called me by the same nickname our father called his sister.
“I’m doing business ... working, ya know. I’ll tell you later.”
Seely was my biggest fan. She often bragged at school about being my sister. I felt responsible for her and even though I was often mean to her, she was the only person I trusted with my secrets.
When I got back into the car, Armando asked me where I lived.
“Farmingville.”
“Where’s that?”
“About ten miles from Southbridge.”
“Oh, sí. No hay problema, I will drive you home. Aquí.” He tossed me a tiny packet containing more mesc than I had ever seen. I pulled the money out of my wallet and gave it to him.
“You gotta pen, muchacha?”
I pulled out a pen along with my trusty notebook.
“Here is my number. From now on you call me, sí?”
“Sí.”
The ride home was quiet. Lourdes rarely spoke, though occasionally she murmured to Armando in Spanish, and he answered almost as softly. I understood nothing they said, but it sounded like music.
Armando looked at me often in the rearview mirror. Sometimes, I met his gaze and held it for a moment. His raven eyes made my heart race. Maybe I saw my future in them, a future more glamorous than I’d ever dreamed, and more horrible than I’d ever feared.

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

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