Showing posts with label coming of age. Show all posts
Showing posts with label coming of age. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

"The Bet Between Us" by Brandon Moore


EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY
The Bet Between Us
by Brandon Moore

The Bet Between Us by Brandon Moore

This book blitz and giveaway for The Bet Between Us by Brandon Moore is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.


Description
Donald Cerlino only cares about three things: money, getting girls, and gambling. His friends are so impressed with his abilities with women, they start calling him Don Juan. When senior year starts, he’s got a list of girls he wants to add to the growing number of notches on his headboard. So when his best friend, Thomas, bets Donald that his skills aren’t enough to nab the school valedictorian, Alaina Pizzo, Donald is up for the challenge. What Thomas doesn’t know is that Donald has had a crush on Alaina since kindergarten. Problem is, Alaina hates his guts.
When Donald’s feelings for Alaina start to show, Thomas begins to turn against him. Thomas wanted Donald to see the error of his ways when it comes to women, not abandon their friendship for yet another girl. The deeper Donald gets, the more he wants a future with Alaina, but that means revealing why he started talking to her in the first place. When Thomas starts threatening to tell Alaina the truth, Donald has to decide if he wants to lose the love of his life or his best friend.
Donald realizes he took a bet he can’t win. The great Don Juan may lose everything.


Excerpt
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


About the Author
Brandon Moore
Brandon was born in Bridgeton, New Jersey, in 1991. He started writing in the first grade when his teacher gave him an assignment to write a story that had to do with Halloween. He chose to write a story about werewolves, and the rest is history. Since then, he's written poetry, lyrics to quite a few songs, and a ton of reviews on music, movies, video games, etc. He currently resides in Carney's Point, New Jersey, with his wife and cat.



Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of The Bet Between Us by Brandon Moore (US/Canada only).

Links

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Friday, January 18, 2019

"Melding Spirits" by Michael E. Burge


EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY
Melding Spirits
by Michael E. Burge


Melding Spirits by Michael E. Burge is currently on tour with iRead Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.


For another book by this author, please check out my blog post on Bryant’s Gap.

Description
Twelve-year-old Evan Mason’s life has been turned upside down by the sudden death of his father. His mother isn’t home much, the insurance office during the day, waiting tables at night. Evan is spending a great deal of time alone.
Now he finds himself on a Greyhound bus headed for a small town on the Wabash River where he’ll spend the summer of 1958 with his loving grandmother.
Evan soon meets his new neighbor, Katie Dobbins. She’s a feisty blue-eyed girl with a ponytail, the type of girl Buddy Holly might sing about on American Bandstand. Evan is instantly enamored with her.
It seems the perfect summer is underway - but strange things are happening in the woods surrounding the Ghost Hill Indian Mound.
There’s a dark cloud lingering over the Wabash Valley - It won’t be long before it erupts into a raging storm.


Excerpt
1
Summer1958
Evan Mason sat in the back seat as Gladys Hatfield dropped the Ford Crestline into first gear, revved the engine, and lurched along the circular drive that serviced the all-in-one train depot and bus station in Chicago Pointe.
Today was Saturday, and Evan would soon be on a southbound bus headed for Laurenville, Illinois to stay with his grandmother for the summer. The thirty-three-year-old woman riding shotgun was Lila Mason, Evan’s mother. On Monday, she would be on a plane headed to Manhattan for a week of training. She had worked as a clerk in the Chicago Pointe office for two years and now had a shot at becoming an agent for one of the biggest insurance companies in the world.
“Okay, Lila,” Gladys said, as she double-parked near the main entrance to the station. “I’m going to drop you right here. I’ll park somewhere around the corner and wait for you. I think that’s his bus.” Gladys jumped from the car, opened the trunk, and with little effort hoisted the overstuffed suitcase and plopped it onto the ground.
Gladys was a large, sturdy woman. She wasn’t what one might call homely, but she had a crooked smile and her features were plain and asymmetrical. Her lips and fingernails were painted a ruby red and her dark auburn hair was piled up on her head in a massive layer of sweeping curls. A stiff northerly breeze was blowing, but her hair remained steadfast as she went about her business.
Not long ago, Gladys had discovered the magic of those aerosol cans that had made their way from the battlefields of WW II, where they were used to dispense insecticides, to the dressing tables of women around the world.
Only instead of DDT, they now were filled with a flowery smelling lacquer, a few layers of which could transform the flattest of hairdos into a high rise bouffant of staggering proportions. Gladys Hatfield had certainly done her part to keep the hairspray companies in business.
“You got a big kiss for your Aunt Gladys, Evan?” She beckoned him around to the rear of the car. He knew what was coming and tried to brace himself for the trauma that would ensue. She pulled him to her bosom, enveloping him in a fog of lavender perfume and talcum powder.
He was light-headed from lack of oxygen and the sheer devastation of the moment, and when he saw the two huge, over-puckered lips coming in for a landing, he was certain things were going to end badly. Fortunately, the sharp, instinctive reflexes of youth took over. He gave a quick twist of his neck and the two ruby red marauders landed three inches off target, splashing down high on his cheek, just below his right eye.
Gladys stepped back to arm’s length. “You have a good time down south, and don’t you worry about your mother. I’ll be watching over her. She’s going to do just fine in that new job. I just know it.” She reached into her purse, pulled out several folded bills, and tucked them into his shirt pocket. “Take Grandma Bea out for a soda. Go see a movie. Buy something for yourself, whatever tickles your fancy. It’s our little secret.”
“Thank you, Aunt Gladys. I—”
“Hold still, honey.” She yanked a flowered hanky from her pocket, wrapped it around her index finger, wet it with her tongue, and executed the dreaded lipstick erasure. Later in his life, Evan would have Freudian nightmares related to that moment.
Incidentally, Gladys wasn’t really Evan’s aunt. He called her that because Lila had always considered her one of the family. It made his mother happy.
Gladys lit a cigarette and slid behind the wheel. “See you in a bit, dearie,” she said to Lila, the cigarette dangling from the corner of her mouth as she spoke.
“Shouldn’t be long, Gladys,” Lila said, looking at her watch. “If the bus leaves on time, it’ll be pulling out in the next fifteen minutes.”
“Don’t rush. If I’m not in the car, I’ll be across the street at the drugstore. Alvin is there today.” She gave a little wink as she popped the clutch and humped her way down the street and around the corner. Gladys wasn’t the best of drivers.
“I hope you remembered everything, Evan. Did you pack your books and the card for Grandma Bea?” Lila said.
“Yes, Mother.”
She reached for the suitcase, but Evan rushed over and picked it up.
“I can carry it,” he said. “Do you want to hurt your back again, right before your trip?”
“Well, if you’re sure you can manage it,” she said. “I don’t want you to rupture something.”
He rolled his eyes and said, “Please, I’m not going to get a rupture!”
They walked toward the waiting bus, Lila checking the list she had taken from her purse.
“Okay, do you have your good jacket, your extra belt, and—”
“Yes, Mother.”
“Your new sneakers?”
He looked down at his brand-new Keds. “I’m wearing them,” he said, shaking his head in mild disgust. “We went through that list an hour ago. It might be a little late now, don’t you think?”
“Now, don’t be a smart aleck, dear. I could certainly mail those things to you, now, couldn’t I?” She snapped the clasp on the large purse she was carrying and pulled out two comic books. She handed them to Evan, then snatched a brand new brown leather wallet from the side pouch. “Your money is behind the little window compartment. Now, make sure you tuck this deep into your pocket so it doesn’t fall out,” she said as she demonstrated the prescribed tucking technique. Evan took it and jammed it into the hip pocket of his jeans. “And I hope you brought your harmonica. The people on the bus might enjoy hearing you play. Music helps pass the time on a long trip, you know.”
At Lila’s suggestion, Gladys had given Evan a top of the line harmonica for his last birthday. Evan had plenty of musical talent. His father had begun teaching him to play the piano when he was just four years old. Evan’s cognitive skills and tonal awareness had been uncanny, especially for a child his age. After his father’s death, Evan’s interest in music had waned. Lila hoped the harmonica might rekindle it.
Got it right here, Mother.” He pulled the instrument from his pocket and waved it to allay any doubt.
They sat on a bench in front of the station and watched as the driver tossed the bags into the cavern under the bus.
Lila lit a cigarette and took a couple of puffs. “Evan, you know, I don’t like the idea of leaving you with Grandma Bea all summer, but I hope you understand, it’s important for both of us that I get this job and get off to a good start. It can mean everything to our future. Aunt Gladys offered to help out, but you wouldn’t have been happy staying with her, would you?” She took another puff on her cigarette.
Evan looked at her and gave another roll of the eyes.
“I didn’t think so. You’ll have a good time at Grandma’s. She loves you a lot. She’ll be grateful for the company,” Lila said.
“Mother, it’s okay. You know I have a lot of friends in Laurenville, probably more than I have here. You don’t have to worry about me.”
“Everyone headed south may begin boarding. Please be sure you have your ticket and all your belongings. Once we leave the barn, we don’t look back!” the driver said as he began to assist people onto the bus.
“Now remember what I said. You give that driver a good up and down inspection as you board, and when you get off at those rest stops, you make sure you keep him in sight all the time you’re there. When he gets up, you follow him. The bus can’t leave without him,” Lila said.
“What about when he goes to the restroom?” Evan said.
“Very funny,” she said and mashed the half-smoked, lipstick-smeared cigarette into the ashtray beside her. Lila didn’t have a robust sense of humor. “Now, get over here and give me a big hug.”
“I’m going to miss you, Mom.” He patted her on the back as they embraced.
“And I’ll miss you,” she said. “You’re the best son a mother could ask for.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
“With Melding Spirits, Michael Burge crafts a poignant coming-of-age story laced with suspense and grit. Crossing genres, this story is sure to appeal to a wide audience. […] Burge keeps the reader guessing and achieves an exhilarating climax toward the end of the novel. Aside from some profanity, this is a relatively clean read, with no graphic details or bedroom scenes, and I recommend it as a fantastic summer read.” ~ Litterarum Studiosus
“I enjoyed reading the story. There were many fun and interesting side stories to the plot. The tension of the story grows as you continue to read. It was fun to see all the pieces fit together to the somewhat surprise ending. There were also some great side characters to the story that added to the overall story.” ~ Dale Hansen
“I just loved this book very well written about growing up in the late 50's, your first love, standing up for a friend. Buy this book read it you won't be disappointed!” ~ Christina
“The suspense made me want to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next. It is definitely not a book that I could predict. I had it read in one day. It is that good. I am giving Melding Spirits a well deserved five plus stars. I would give one hundred stars if I could. I highly recommend it for other readers to add to their must read lists. I look forward to reading more by Michael E Burge and see where else he takes a reader to next. He has extraordinary talent. Melding Spirits is most definitely a must read!” ~ Amy C
“What a delightful book. Michael E. Burge has a way of getting into his characters hearts. I love meeting Evan, Katie, Riley, and Grandma Bea. Mr. O'Malley reminded me of my Papa. This story takes you back to a simpler time of 1958, where neighbors helped each other and looked after one another. I really enjoyed the build-up of this story and loved the ending. Truly a melding of spirits. I highly recommend this book.” ~ Amazon Customer


My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.


By Lynda Dickson
It’s 1959 and twelve-year-old Evan is sent to spend the summer with his Grandma Bea. There, he runs into some old friends and makes some new ones. He spends time searching for Indian relics, eating ice cream at Dairy Queen, discussing movies and music, going fishing, and experiencing first love. Meanwhile, teenage girls are disappearing, and a murderer is on the loose …
Initially, this book appears to be a quiet look at the idyllic goings-on in the summer of a twelve-year-old boy. We are introduced to the characters and given an insight into their background, whether they are main characters or not. A lot of this is unnecessary but adds to the quiet charm of the book. Then the book takes a turn, and it feels like we have been thrust into an episode of Criminal Minds. This book doesn’t know what it wants to be. It reads like a middle grade action/adventure/romance but the language and violence place it firmly in the adult demographic. The chapters switch between the points-of-view of children and adults but, towards the end, we are head-hopping from paragraph to paragraph. Editing errors include overuse of exclamation marks and unnecessary italicizing of words and phrases. In addition, the title and cover image don’t accurately reflect the story. There is one reference to the melding of spirits in the book (see below), but it has no bearing on the plot, while the bridge on the cover only makes a minor appearance towards the end of the book.
Not what I expected.
Warnings: coarse language, sexual references, violence.

Some of My Favorite Lines
“They believed that every living creature has an energy, a spirit, that after death becomes even stronger because it melds with every other being that came before.”
“Sometimes, a person’s dreams have to be altered a bit.”
“He said most people just stumble along waiting for something good to happen, then before they know it, they’re out of time, kind of like a balloon that shoots around the room in every direction until it runs out of air, then it just lays there.”
“It must be hard having all that ability and knowing that you’ll never be able to use it. What a waste. Like being a bird in a cage.”
“You get used to it. I guess, after a while, change starts seeming normal.”
“I think that being happy has a lot to do with being able to control the thoughts that come into your mind.”
“Everyone has a story, son. Sadly, for most people, their story is never told.”

About the Author
Michael E. Burge
Michael E. Burge grew up in the Chicago suburbs and a small town on the Wabash River in Southern Illinois.
In the late sixties, he left college to serve on a U.S. Navy destroyer out of Norfolk, Virginia. Upon leaving the service, he transitioned to a career in the burgeoning computer industry, positions in product management and marketing.
He is now pursuing his lifelong interest in writing, publishing his debut novel, Bryant’s Gap, in 2015 and his second, Melding Spirits, in 2017.
Michael also plays piano, paints, and is an avid golfer. He and his family currently live in Illinois.


Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of seven copies of Melding Spirits by Michael E. Burge. Two winners will also win a $20 Amazon gift card (open to USA/Canada only).

Links



Friday, November 16, 2018

"Gap-Toothed Girl" by Ray Harvey


REVIEW and GIVEAWAY
Gap-Toothed Girl
by Ray Harvey

Gap-Toothed Girl by Ray Harvey

Gap-Toothed Girl by Ray Harvey is currently on tour with Reading Addiction Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.


Description
“Tournament night in a sweltering Las Vegas stadium, and the girl with the gap-toothed smile stood bleeding in her ballet slippers.”
So begins Gap-Toothed Girl, the story of Dusty May, a Lakota orphan with a radiant smile and an iron will, who runs away from the horrific circumstances of her foster home and her foster father - a man of beast-like brilliance and power - to pursue her dream of lightness and ballet, even as her foster father unleashes an army to bring her down.
Part literary fiction, part thriller, part dance story, Gap-Toothed Girl is at its core a tale of human joy and freedom of will - a “fast-paced novel combining the surreal imagery of Nabokov with the psychological complexity of Dostoevsky” to more thoroughly investigate the depths of the human psyche and the indomitable will to succeed, ultimately drilling down into the very nature of happiness, art, and the human soul.

Excerpt
Chapter 1
Tournament night in a sweltering Las Vegas stadium, and the girl with the gap-toothed smile stood bleeding in her ballet slippers. The sodium lights of the arena lay upcast on the low-hanging sky above. An electrical charge hummed through the air: a crackling undercurrent that came neither from the lights nor from the distant heat lightning, but from the galvanized excitement of the crowd.
Before her, some twenty feet away and elevated four feet off the ground, there stretched a long green balance beam, atop which, at the southernmost end, stood eight empty whiskey bottles. The bottles were perfectly upright and in single file. A small springboard crouched in front.
High above her floated a long banner which said, in shimmering red letters:
A CONTEST OF MOTION
She closed her eyes and inhaled. The air was dry. She stood alone upon the stage. She was dusky-limbed, Lakota. She held her breath a moment and then she released it.
When she opened her eyes, her gaze settled on the objects before her: the springboard, the balance beam, the whiskey bottles. The heat hung heavy. A rill of sweat slid between her breasts. She didn’t see the tiny camera-flash explosions igniting everywhere around her from within the darkness of the stadium. She forgot that there were thousands of eyes fixed upon her. She forgot also the pain in her toes and was unaware of the bleed-through and the blood leaking like ink across the entire top part of her slipper.
Offstage in the shadows, a lanky youth in a baseball cap gave a thumbs-up, but it wasn’t directed toward her.
A man with a microphone emerged on stage. He was thin and well-dressed and darkly complexioned.
A hush came over the crowd. The man held the microphone to his mouth. His voice came booming through the speakers with great clarity.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “ladies and gentleman. May I have your attention, please. Thank you. We are finally at the end of the night, and — my Lord — what a night it’s been. What a competition.”
The crowd erupted.
“We have seen — excuse me, please — we have seen tonight some of the very best dancers in the world, and I’m sure you know this is not an exaggeration. We have only one more to go. Did we save the best for last? Need I remind you that there’s fifty thousand dollars at stake here?”
He paused.
“Now,” he said, “now, then. Do you see this young woman up on the stage with me? I’m told she’s about to do something that only one other person in human history is known to have done, and that was Ms. Bianca Passarge, of Hamburg, Germany, in 1958 — except Ms. Passarge, I am told, was not mounting a balance beam when she did her routine. Can this little girl — all 115 pounds of her — I say, can she do it? Can she steal the money from these big city boys and girls, the Bronx break dancers and West Coast B-Boys and all the others who have astounded us here tonight with their strength and agility and their grace of motion? Folks, we are about to find out.”
The crowd erupted again. The MC turned and looked at the girl on stage behind him.
He winked.
He lowered the microphone and said in an unamplified voice that sounded peculiar to her:
“Are you ready?”
He smiled kindly.
She nodded.
He gave her the A-OK sign with his fingers and nodded back. Then her lips broke open in return, disclosing, very slightly, her endearing gap-toothed smile.
He brought the microphone back to his mouth and turned again to the audience.
“Here we go!” he said.
The crowd went dead-silent in anticipation.
“Okay, okay!” she thought. All ten of her fingers wiggled unconsciously and in unison.
Abruptly, then, the lights above her darkened while simultaneously the lights behind her brightened, and then the music began: fast-paced and throbbing and happy.
She bolted forward.
She sprinted toward the balance beam and with astonishing speed executed a back handspring onto the springboard, vaulting into a full fluid backflip on one foot upon the beam — which in the very same motion turned into another back handspring, and then another, all to within inches of the bottles at the far end of the beam. This entire process took no more than five seconds. Here she paused for a fraction and then performed a half turn. From there she leapt lightly onto the first upright whiskey bottle, which wobbled only slightly under her weight. She placed her other toe catlike upon the next whiskey bottle, and then she raised herself en point to great heights…
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
“Dusty May won my heart, and so did this story!” ~ Amazon Customer
“A beautiful and beautifully written novel which I loved.” ~ Roberto Munoz-Alicea
“I loved the first part of the story. I'm happy to say the rest of the book is even better. It's genuinely thrilling, edge-of-the-seat, and inspirational. It's the best book I've read so far this year.” ~ C-Lee J.
“An incredible story and must read! My favorite of Mr. Harvey's work to date. In fact, my favorite read of the year! Ray has a unique voice that brings Dusty May to life in this beautiful story of a young woman with a determined will.” ~ TRunn
“You have to experience this wonderful book to believe it.” ~ Lauren Fillmore
“This is by far the best book I've read in a year or more.” ~ Pakeha

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.


By Lynda Dickson
Dusty May falls in love with gymnastics when she is eight. At sixteen, she runs away from a bad situation in her foster home to achieve her dream, but she must overcome even more harrowing obstacles along the way.
The book begins with a great opening line: “Tournament night in a sweltering Las Vegas stadium, and the girl with the gap-toothed smile stood bleeding in her ballet slippers.” From there, things just get better. The story is populated with intriguing characters and riddled with interesting philosophical discussions. The author has a wonderfully rich and poetic vocabulary, and I was glad for the dictionary function of the Kindle app.
Dusty’s gap-toothed smile doesn’t appear very often but, when it does, it’s glorious. Utterly charming.
Warnings: rape, violence.

About the Author
Ray Harvey
Ray A. Harvey, novelist, essayist, published poet, athlete, and editor, son of Firman Charles Harvey (RIP) and his wife Cecilia, youngest of thirteen half brothers and half sisters, was born and raised in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. He’s worked as a short-order cook, copyeditor, construction laborer, crab fisherman, janitor, pedi-cab driver, bartender, and more. He’s also written and ghostwritten a number of published books, poems, and essays, but no matter where he’s gone or what he’s done to earn a living, literature and learning have always existed at the core of his life.




Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card OR an ebook copy of Gap-Toothed Girl by Ray Harvey.

Links