GIRLS of BRACKENHILL by Kate Moretti – Spotlight & GIVEAWAY CLOSED

Haunted by her sister’s disappearance, a troubled woman becomes consumed by past secrets in this gripping thriller, GIRLS OF BRACKHILL from the New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year, KATIE MORETTI.

When Hannah Maloney’s aunt dies in a car accident, she returns to her family’s castle in the Catskills and the epicenter of a childhood trauma: her sister’s unsolved disappearance. It’s been seventeen years, and though desperate to start a new life with her fiancé, Hannah is compelled to question the events of her last summer at Brackenhill.

When a human bone is found near the estate, Hannah is convinced it belongs to her long-lost sister. She launches her own investigation into that magical summer that ended in a nightmare. As strange happenings plague the castle, Hannah uncovers disturbing details about the past and startling realizations about her own repressed childhood memories.

Fueled by guilt over her sister’s vanishing, Hannah becomes obsessed with discovering what happened all those years ago, but by the time Hannah realizes some mysteries are best left buried, it’s too late to stop digging. Overwhelmed by what she has exposed, Hannah isn’t sure her new life can survive her old ghosts.

Kate Moretti is the New York Times Bestselling author of six novels and a novella, including Thought I Knew YouWhile You Were GoneBinds That TieThe Vanishing YearBlackbird SeasonIn Her Bones, and the forthcoming Girls of Brackenhill. Her first novel THOUGHT I KNEW YOU, was a New York Times bestseller. THE VANISHING YEAR was a nominee in the Goodreads Choice Awards Mystery/Thriller category for 2016 and was called “chillingly satisfying.” (Publisher’s Weekly) with “superb” closing twists (New York Times Book Review). Her books have been translated in over ten different languages and has been optioned for television.

​Kate has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for twenty years as a scientist and enjoys traveling and cooking. She lives in Pennsylvania in an old farmhouse with her husband, two children and no known ghosts. Her lifelong dream is to find a secret passageway.

http://www.katemoretti.com

Thanks to Thomas & Mercer we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us your best ghost story. We’ll choose a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please.

A FRENZY OF SPARKS by KRISTIN FIELDS – Review, Interview & Giveaway

I loved Kristin Fields novel, A FRENZY of SPARKS (LakeUnion). In many ways it was my story of growing up in the 60s where everything seemed perfect, and boring at the same time. We lived in the same neighborhood as our aunts, uncles and cousins. We were always dreaming of escaping our lives in the suburbs. Sundays were family day, usually a barbeque at someone’s house.

In this book, Gia is a 13-year old girl living in Queens on the verge of growing up. Her backyard canal is a better place to be, compared to spending time with boys in the neighborhood. But in A FRENZY of SPARKS, like much of life the neighborhood isn’t really what seems. One cousin introduces drugs into the neighborhood and everything starts changing and not for the better.

A FRENZY of SPARKS is a story about family, love, addiction and making choices. Its a story of survival and attempting to move on when your heart has been broken.

WE ASKED KRISTIN A FEW QUESTIONS:

1. We love sagas about families. The secrets and the various relationships. What makes the perfect family saga?
The funny thing about families is that we’ve clustered a group of individuals together by blood and traits that sometimes compliment each other, but often clash. A good family saga throws that whole range of emotions, from wanting to belong to wanting to stand apart, down on paper. 

2. Please give me the elevator pitch for this novel?A FRENZY OF SPARKS is a coming of age story set in 1960s Queens against the backdrop of the drug crisis of the time, in which a 13 year old girl tries to save her brother from addiction and the world from chemicals, but the most important thing she’ll need to save is herself. 

3. I like this quote, “survival is the attempt to move forward while leaving pieces of your heart behind.” Explain.It often feels impossible after a loss that life can continue, that the next breath will come, that the newspaper will end up on the stoop, that food will ever taste like anything at all, that time will be a thing that we savor instead of dread. But slowly, time accumulates. We continue, not wholly, not without missing pieces, but we continue. 

4. What is your writing process?I usually know the title of the book before anything else. The title becomes the question to answer as I write. I write about 150-200 throwaway pages to figure out the characters and relationships that will ultimately drive the story and outline later. Outlining in the beginning feels too restrictive for me – how can I know what they’ll do if I don’t know who they are yet? My favorite time to write is around 4am before the world starts. It’s nice to fall into another world and look up to realize the sun has come up. It’s the best way to start the day.

5. Tell me about the research that went into writing this novel?
A FRENZY OF SPARKS was inspired by a true family event: I have an uncle who overdosed before his eighteenth birthday. Even though he died years before I was born, it was too painful for my family to talk about, and I didn’t know much about him. It hit me one day that this was the story I was meant to tell – and had perhaps been inching towards in my earlier writing.
Writing A FRENZY OF SPARKS was the first time I spoke directly to my father about his childhood. We scheduled Saturday morning interviews, which he took very seriously. I had questions about his neighborhood, family, things he did for fun, local legends, the shops they visited, much of which shaped the novel’s setting, though at the time, it was less about historical accuracy and more about curiosity. It’s a special thing to imagine your parents as children. 
Our first call lasted four hours. My father was close to Gia’s age at the time, but ultimately, A FRENZY OF SPARKS is fiction, told through the perspective of a girl on the cusp of adulthood. I borrowed from my own experience and frustration with the expectations projected on Italian American girls. Gia is the closest character I’ve written to myself. She is young and naive, but fearlessly observant and intune to the moods of others. She feels a deep connection to nature and the natural world despite living so close to New York City, a fact that sets her apart from her family. More than anything, she wants to do good in a world that isn’t quite open to her yet. 
Years ago, I taught high school in Rockaway and moved to Howard Beach for a shorter commute. I lived in a small, ground level apartment off a canal that flooded when the tide was high at full moon. I used to watch the planes take off from JFK in the park and ate more slices at New Park than I can count, but the funny thing is, the apartment was right around the block from the house my father grew up in. He was as surprised as I was to discover that I’d ended up so close. We joked that I must’ve been drawn there. My father described reading A FRENZY OF SPARKS as the surprise of walking around the block and bumping into someone he hadn’t seen for a long time. Gia reminds him of me. 


6. Tips for would be writers.The best writing advice I ever received was from Martha McPhee, my mentor and friend. I was struggling to write my first book when she told me to pause writing and go live my life. It wasn’t easy to hear, but she was right. The words followed when there was more experience to draw from. 

Kristin Fields grew up in Queens, which she likes to think of as a small town next to a big city. Fields studied writing at Hofstra University, where she received the Eugene Schneider Fiction Award. After college, Fields found herself working on a historic farm, teaching high school English, and designing museum education programs. She is currently leading an initiative to bring gardens to public schools in New York City, where she lives with her husband. We have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us the latest book that you’ve read and loved. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck. GIVEAWAY: USA only please.

MISTLETOE and WEDDING BELLS by Ashley Farley – GIVEAWAY

We’re heading back to Hope Springs and it’s Christmas. In Ashley Farley’s third installment of the Hope Springs Series, MISTLETOE and WEDDING BELLS, we’re catching up with the same down home characters and gentility. But there’s more, someone or someones are planning their wedding on Christmas or Christmas Day. “Weddings Bells are ringing.”

General Manager, Stella Boor is back. She’s trying to plan her wedding, build a dream house, but more importantly, get full custody of six-year old, Jazz.

Event planner, Presley Ingram, has a secret. She’s secretly planning Stella and Jack’s dream wedding. She’s so caught up in their wedding plans, she won’t make a date for hers. Her relationship with a hot man is growing. She wonders if she’s planning Stella’s wedding or her own.

Head Chef, Cecily Weber is marrying the love her life, or she? After discovery of another side of her fiance, she questions whether or not she’s making a mistake. She’s a workaholic, successful she doesn’t want her personal life to screw up her career.

Head chef, Cecily Weber, will wed the love of her life on Christmas Eve. But when her fiancé shows an irresponsible side she’s never before seen, Cecily begins to have second doubts. Is she suffering from pre-wedding jitters? Or will she be forced to choose between marriage and the success she’s worked so hard to achieve.

We get to enjoy a wonderful Christmas season at Hope Springs despite all the drama. Who is really going to live a life of happily ever after.

Ashley Farley writes books about women for women. Her characters are mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives facing real-life issues. Her bestselling Sweeney Sisters series has touched the lives of many.

Ashley is a wife and mother of two young adult children. While she’s lived in Richmond, Virginia for the past 24 years, a piece of her heart remains in the salty marshes of the South Carolina Lowcountry, where she still calls home. Through the eyes of her characters, she captures the moss-draped trees, delectable cuisine, and kindhearted folk with lazy drawls that make the area so unique.

Ashley loves to hear from her readers.
Mingle with like-minded readers on her active Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/ashleywfarley.
Visit her website @ http://www.ashleyfarley.com
Sign up for her newsletter @ https://ashleyfarley.com/newsletter-signup/

Thanks to Kate Rock Tours we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us your favorite Holiday memory. We’ll pick a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please

NOEL, ALABAMA by Susan Sands – Review & Giveaway CLOSED

She’s finally come home, but will she stay?

Bailey may have bolted from Ministry before the ink on her diploma dried, but her hometown definitely knows how to throw an unforgettable southern Christmas. Except she forgot about the ghosts of Christmas past she left behind—especially her first love, Seth.

Sheriff Seth McKay never forgot the girl he let go so many years ago. They were soulmates, but he knew Bailey needed more than Ministry could offer. Now she’s back and more stunning and confident than ever. Despite the years, their connection and chemistry still burn bright. Can Seth find his own Christmas miracle and convince Bailey to write her story in Ministry…with him?

I loved this book. The love story was sweet, the writing fresh and totally got me excited for the upcoming holiday season. I also learned a lot about the movie business. Readers will all want to visit MINISTRY this Christmas.

A self-described late bloomer, Susan Sands began writing her first novel at age forty. She compares her challenging journey to publication as “raising another child—a difficult one.”

Susan has published five southern, contemporary women’s fiction novels set in Alabama. She describes her humorous small-town stories as fun, romantic, and filled with big family love. Susan also writes authentic place-as-a-character southern fiction with a humorous voice in addition to her Alabama series.

Susan has three grown children and lives with her dentist husband in Roswell, GA. She has a degree in elementary education, is a member of the Georgia Romance Writers, the Romance Writers of America, the Atlanta Writer’s Club,  Womens Fiction Writers of America (WFWA), and the Broadleaf Writers Association. She participates in book festivals, book clubs, and writer’s conferences around the South. Susan is the recipient of the 2017 Georgia Author of the Year award for romance.

http://www.susansands.com

Thanks to Susan we have one autographed copy of NOEL, ALABAMA to giveaway. Just tell us what makes the Holidays magical for you. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please

THE MIRROR MAN by Jane Gilmartin – Spotlight – Excerpt – Q & A * GIVEAWAY CLOSED *

In THE MIRROR MAN by Jane Gilmartin, the offer is too tempting: be part of a scientific breakthrough, step out of his life for a year, and be paid hugely for it. When ViGen Pharmaceuticals asks Jeremiah to be part of an illegal cloning experiment, he sees it as a break from an existence he feels disconnected from. No one will know he’s been replaced—not the son who ignores him, not his increasingly distant wife—since a revolutionary drug called Meld can transfer his consciousness and memories to his copy.

From a luxurious apartment, he watches the clone navigate his day-to-day life. But soon Jeremiah discovers that examining himself from an outsider’s perspective isn’t what he thought it would be, and he watches in horror as “his” life spirals out of control. ViGen needs the experiment to succeed—they won’t call it off, and are prepared to remove any obstacle. With his family in danger, Jeremiah needs to finally find the courage to face himself head-on.

HERE’S AN EXCERPT FROM THE MIRROR MAN

Charles Scott glared down at him with a glint in his green eyes that felt like a warning, and Jeremiah replayed in his head the man’s ambiguous threat during their first meeting several weeks before.

“You now know as much about this project as anyone else involved,” he’d said. “It wouldn’t do to have too many people walking around with this kind of information. Our investors have a tendency to get nervous.”

Although Scott had quickly followed that remark with the matter of Jeremiah’s substantial compensation, there was no mistaking the implication: the moment he’d been told about the cloning project Jeremiah was already in. That first meeting hadn’t been an invitation so much as an orientation, and the contract he’d later signed had been a formality, at best. And the entire thing had done nothing but gain momentum from that moment on.

Dr. Pike continued to affix the wires to Jeremiah’s head. Jeremiah focused on the man’s gleaming black hair and the deep brown of his sure, professional hands, and he struggled to remember the allure of the $10 million payout he’d get at the end of the whole thing. That kind of money could fix a lot of problems. It would change things. The prospect of that fortune had been enough to make him turn away from principles he thought were unshakable. Every man has his price, he supposed.

Somewhere in the back of his mind he also acknowledged the real temptation of a twelve-month sabbatical from his own life. It had seduced him every bit as much as the money had. Maybe more. Between a job that had already begun to make him question his own morals, and a marriage that felt increasingly more like a lie, stress was eating him alive. And into his lap fell a chance to just walk away from all of it—without consequence and without blame. A free pass. He could simply walk away without anyone even knowing he was gone. There isn’t a man alive, he told himself, who would have refused. Despite the ethical question, despite that human cloning was illegal the world over, it would have tempted anyone.

Dr. Pike injected the clone with Meld and then turned wordlessly to Jeremiah with the second syringe poised above his left shoulder.

Jeremiah closed his eyes and rolled up his sleeve.

After the initial stab of the needle, he felt nothing. Which is not to say he didn’t feel anything; he literally felt nothing. Seconds after the injection, he became aware of a total emptiness, like a towering black wave that threatened to sink him into an immeasurable void. The experience was unlike anything he’d ever known. He imagined an astronaut suddenly untethered from his ship, floating helplessly into unending darkness. Without thinking, he immediately felt his body recoil. His mind screamed against it.

I’m dying!

From impossibly far away, he heard Dr. Pike say something about a heart rate and felt the slight pressure of a hand on his shoulder. He couldn’t see anything of the hospital room anymore. He was drowning in the blackness. His chest felt suddenly constricted. He fought just to find his breath.

“This is all perfectly normal, Mr. Adams. You have nothing to worry about. Concentrate on the sound of my voice. Nod if you can hear me.”

With considerable effort, Jeremiah managed what he hoped was a nod of his head. He was suddenly gripped by the alarming certainty that if he couldn’t communicate somehow, he’d be lost—swept away forever.

“Good. Good. Listen to my voice. It will keep you grounded.” Pike still sounded far away, but Jeremiah nodded again and struggled to focus. “What you are experiencing is to be expected. Do you remember when you took the Meld with Dr. Young? Do you remember the way you could feel her thoughts for the first few minutes?”

He nodded. It had been an unnerving thing to perceive her consciousness mixing with his like that. Flashes from her mind—odd, alien things like the feel of a blister on the back of her right heel, the familiar gleam in the eye of an old man he’d never seen—had swirled into the very structure of his own mind and fought for a place to settle. He had railed against that, too, and she had grounded him by flashing a penlight in his face, making him focus on that while the Meld took effect. Afterward, once he had sunk in, it had been easier.

“This is no different than what you experienced then,” Pike said. “This time, though, you are connected to an empty mind. There’s nothing there. But the more you resist, the longer this will take. You need to relax, Mr. Adams. Give in to it.”

Jeremiah nodded again and then shook his head with as much grit as he could muster. How does one give in to this? He didn’t think he could do it.

“Once your thoughts begin transferring into the mind of the clone it will be easier for you,” Pike urged. “Focus on a memory, as I suggested. Something vivid. It will help to fill that void you’re experiencing now. It will give you something to hang on to.”

Without the benefit of his full faculties, Jeremiah had little choice but to grab the last thing he’d been thinking about—his initial conversation with Charles Scott, the day all of this began.

He’d been surprised when he’d received an invitation to lunch from ViMed’s head of Engineering. The man was an icon in the science world, and although he’d quoted him a hundred times for the company, Jeremiah had never actually met him. He’d been intrigued enough to accept the invitation, especially when Scott had told him it involved a “proposition that could make him a very wealthy man.”

Flashes of that encounter and snatches of conversation now flitted through his mind like so many fireflies. He fought to catch them.

“We’ve been watching you, Mr. Adams.”

“All we ask is one year of your life. Isn’t that worth $10 million?”

“We can do this. The science exists. And with Meld, the clone will even share your thought patterns… Your own mother won’t know the difference.”

“This is sanctioned by powerful people—we have millions in secret federal backing. There are billions more in eventual funding… There’s no need to be so suspicious, Mr. Adams.”

From somewhere far away, Jeremiah heard Dr. Pike repeating his name. He had been so engulfed in his efforts to hold on to the memory that he’d almost forgotten where he was. As soon as he realized it, the void loomed again in his mind.

“Mr. Adams,” Pike said, “you’ve got to listen to me. The clone cannot pick up on any memory of the experiment. What you’re thinking about is not going to help. You need to think about something else, some memory that won’t be filtered. His mind is still empty.”

Jeremiah panicked. He couldn’t think. And now that he wasn’t focused on anything, the blackness began to take over again, creeping closer and threatening to swallow him. He fought for breath.

“Relax, Mr. Adams,” Pike said. “Think about your job here at ViMed. Remember something the clone can actually use. Something he’ll need to know.”

He felt a dull jab at his shoulder.

“This should help. I’ve given you a mild sedative. Take a few deep breaths. Concentrate on your breathing.”

With everything in him, Jeremiah tried to turn his mind away from the void that seemed to be all around him. He inhaled deeply and tried to focus on the rise of his own chest. Exhaled, and he felt his chest fall.

“Very good, Mr. Adams. Very good. Pulse is returning to normal. Deep breaths. Now, think about a typical day at work. Something ordinary and mundane.”

Inhale. Exhale. After a moment, Jeremiah began to relax and, as the sedative took hold, he found he could let his mind wander without the frantic thought that he’d never get it back. An oddly comforting fog seemed to expand in front of him, pushing the blackness away slightly, and Jeremiah retreated into it.

He began to think about the morning of the Meld fiasco—the day the New Jersey housewife had killed herself. The press had been circling. He’d arrived at his office with a terse mandate from his superiors to “get these fuckers off our back” and no idea how to accomplish that. It hadn’t been lost on him that not a single soul seemed bothered enough to stop and feel sorry about it, and he’d taken a quick moment behind his office door to offer silent condolences. It wasn’t thirty seconds before someone had come knocking, pushing him to get something done.

Weeks before, he’d heard talk of Meld being used to detect brain activity in a sixteen-year-old football player who had been comatose for nearly six months. Time to cash in. He tracked down the doctor somewhere in Delaware and the man started gushing about Meld, calling it “magical,” “a godsend” and “the most important medical advance of a generation.”

“After so many weeks,” he said, “the parents were hopeless.”

Meld was a last resort before pulling the plug, and it gave them the first clear signs of neural activity in the boy.

“Not only was he aware and awake in there, but he was cognizant of everything that was going on around him—including the fact that his parents were losing hope. He even heard them talking about funeral arrangements at one point. The kid was scared, terrified. He was begging for his life in there. That’s what I saw when I took the Meld with him. Meld absolutely saved his life. There is no doubt in my mind.”

Jeremiah had almost smiled. It was pure gold. A few hours later, the story was in the hands of every major news outlet, and that doctor was spending his fifteen minutes of fame touting Meld as “a medical miracle.”Jeremiah focused on that now. Maybe Meld did have some silver lining, after all, he thought. Maybe it was miraculous.

WE GOT TO ASK THE AUTHOR SOME QUESTIONS

What made you write this novel?

I love characters that are almost but not quite human. My favorite Star Trek characters are always ones like Spock, Data, and the Doctor from Voyager. Clones, to me, are about as almost human as you can get. Some of my favorite science fiction stories deal with clones. But there are so many good ones already out there I didn’t feel like I had anything to add, and I never really set out to try.

But I was reading something a few years ago that posed a straightforward and fascinating question: What would it be like to meet your own clone? The article I was reading left it at that, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I knew it might be interesting to write a clone story that focused not on the clone, but on the human, who had been cloned. I thought that presented a whole new set of ideas and issues within the topic. It sort of turns the whole thing around when you look at it from that human perspective. What would it feel like to see yourself replaced in your own life? There is something so creepy and sad about that idea. Also, though, I saw something hopeful. I think it brings up the possibility of making a change in your life or seeing the opportunity for a second chance, which is always a good thing to explore. Those are some ideas I tried to keep in mind as I was writing The Mirror Man.

  1. Medical thrillers are all the rage. Why, do you think?

I think there is something intrinsically threatening about so-called Big Pharma – especially right now. In the midst of a global pandemic, the world is waiting for a viable vaccine to fix it, but there’s this nagging doubt that maybe it’s being rushed. We have government agencies relaxing rules on testing protocol, funding research with budgets the size of planetary systems, and all these drug companies racing to be the one that comes charging in on the white stallion to save the world. But poll after poll in the news says the public won’t feel safe getting vaccinated right off the bat, even if it means getting back to normal. And there are more people in the world today that don’t trust mandated vaccines to begin with – not even for the tried and tested ones for polio or mumps. 

People don’t trust that these huge companies truly have the public’s best interest at heart. I think that really became more evident when pharmaceutical companies began advertising drugs on television and pushing people to “ask your doctor or pharmacist if (insert drug here) is right for you.” I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t want to suggest a drug to my doctor as though it were a brand of cookie that looked good on TV. I’d much rather my doctor had a more educated idea on what medicine I ought to be taking. 

So, I think medical thrillers are big right now because people are pretty easily convinced that an industry that seems motivated more by profit and less by altruistic science just might have the capacity for evil. For a lot of people, that distrust is already there.

  1. What are your thoughts about cloning?

I find the concept of cloning to be fascinating. The thought of having a clone – someone who could say, clean the bathrooms for me, make dinner, go to a meeting in my place – is sort of tempting. But there are all these sinister elements about cloning, and a whole lot of ethical questions, too, that are a lot more serious. What if we created clones for harvesting body parts in the event that we got sick or injured? What if we used them to fight our wars or for bomb disposal and other dangerous endeavors in our place? Would the auto industry begin using clones instead of test dummies for crash test data? Presumably, a clone would feel every bit as real and human as the host it sprang from, but would it be? Would clones have the same rights and privileges of personhood if they were mere copies? Would they be entitled to such rights and privileges? And if they didn’t get them – what then? Would they organize and rise up against us? 

There is a lot to consider about human cloning and I only touched briefly on these questions in The Mirror Man, but I think we – as a society and as a species – ought to start thinking about it.

  1. How did you research this novel?

Because the main focus of The Mirror Man is more the psychological changes of the protagonist as he watches his clone, it isn’t a book that’s especially science laden. That being said, the science (even though most is invented) had to be believable and plausible and so, is based on real science.

For the cloning aspect in the story I researched the way cloning is currently done in mammals – via cell transfer and embryotic implantation. But I also needed to identify ways in which scientists might grow a human clone quickly, so it would reach a full, adult maturation rate in about 48 hours. I read a lot about Human Growth Hormone (HGH) in the pituitary gland of our brains and its effect on how our bodies grow. The research was intriguing and sent me down so many rabbit holes dealing with the role this hormone plays in cell repair, muscle mass, weight gain, and even life expectancy. The articles I saved and the notes I took might well come in handy for a future novel.

I also did some research for Meld, the invented drug in the story. I wanted to create a drug that – if two people took it together – could offer a literal glimpse into someone else’s mind but one that could also be used to transfer brain patterns and consciousness from the main character into the clone. In the novel, the drug is used in a myriad of ways – not only to copy a mind, but also as a promising medical tool and as an illegal recreational drug with dire consequences. For Meld I researched the areas of the human brain such a drug might act upon – especially our aptly titled mirror neurons which are responsible for making us yawn when we see someone else yawn. (If yours are especially active, you might have yawned at the very thought of that. If so – sorry!)

  1. Do you believe human cloning is possible?

As the lead scientist in The Mirror Man likes to point out, “the science exists.” 

Human cloning is absolutely possible. We are already so adept at cloning animals that there are actual companies out there whose entire business model is built on cloning our dogs and cats. And people do that more often than you’d imagine. Did you know Barbara Streisand has had something like five clones of her favorite dog? It’s true. And we all know the story of Dolly, the sheep with the dubious distinction of being the very first mammal to be successfully cloned in 1996. From dogs and cats and sheep it isn’t a giant leap to cloning humans. Essentially, the science is the same. What’s stopping us (thankfully) isn’t the feasibility, but the ethical and moral dilemmas associated with human cloning.

While many countries have passed laws that prohibit human cloning, the US currently has no such legislation (although some states do). Congress has proposed many bills to that effect, but none have been enacted into actual law. The reason for that is partly because things like medical stem cell research overlap the science of cloning. But there are reams of material written on the ethical implications of human cloning from agencies including the World Health Organization, and there are ongoing congressional discussions to agree at least on some level of regulation. But at the moment, in the US, human cloning is both scientifically possible and essentially legal. That’s just a tiny bit terrifying.

  1. Talk about the meaning of identity in your book

It didn’t take me long to understand that what I was really doing with The Mirror Man was writing a story about self-identity. It’s a topic that finds its way into a lot of what I write and is strangely compelling to me. My favorite line from David Bowie’s song “Changes” is this: 

I turn myself to face me, but I never caught a glimpse of how the others must see the faker

I find that idea fascinating. We all have this idea of who we are, and how we come across to other people, but it’s probably not the truth. The way we see ourselves is muddled with all these filters and little lies. We are all, in a sense, just fakers. I wanted to explore that concept, so I came up with a way to put a character in a situation where he literally had to turn and face himself – to see himself exactly as everyone else sees him — from the outside. Cloning seemed an obvious choice for a science fiction writer. 

In the novel, my character, Jeremiah is largely locked in this laboratory/apartment and made to watch his clone on a TV monitor for four hours a day. Even though he’s typically seeing mundane things – the clone interacting with his family and co-workers – the experience is difficult and eye-opening for him. While he has to admit that his double is every bit identical to him, he begins to despise who he’s watching. It makes him question fundamental things about his own identity.

Meanwhile, we have this illegal street use of a drug called Meld that allows people to see themselves through someone else’s eyes and it leads to a rash of suicides. It’s another way of looking at what the main character is going through, but the result is basically the same: It isn’t easy to face the truth of who you are.

There are a lot of figurative and literal mirrors in my novel. Jeremiah is often looking at his own reflection as he grapples with questions about his life. He spends quite a bit of time creating an avatar of himself for a video game. And, obviously, his clone is sort of the ultimate reflection. But he never fully understands what he’s seeing until he’s forced to face himself. And I had to bring him to that point in a very literal way. Hopefully, the novel will leave readers asking some interesting questions about their own identity.

About the Author:

Jane Gilmartin has been a news reporter and editor for several small-town weekly papers and enjoyed a brief but exciting stint as a rock music journalist. A bucket list review just before she turned 50 set her on the path to fiction writing. Also checked off that list: an accidental singing career, attending a Star Trek convention, and getting a hug from David Bowie. She lives in her hometown of Hingham, Massachusetts.

Social Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JANEGILMARTIN3 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/imadj123/ 

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mirror-Man-Jane-Gilmartin/dp/0778309649 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mirror-man-jane-gilmartin/1132648651?ean=9780778309642

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/the-mirror-man-9780778309642/9780778309642

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780778309642

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Mirror-Man/Jane-Gilmartin/9780778309642?id=7603448579977

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ie/en/audiobook/the-mirror-man-6

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-mirror-man/id1474107554 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jane_Gilmartin_The_Mirror_Man?id=9nClDwAAQBAJ

THE MIRROR MAN will be published October 20th.

TSARINA by Ellen Alpsten – SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY CLOSED

Before there was Catherine the Great, there was Catherine Alexeyevna: the first woman to rule Russia in her own right. Ellen Alpsten’s rich novel, TSARINA (StMartinsPress) sweeping debut novel is the story of her rise to power.

St. Petersburg, 1725. Peter the Great lies dying in his magnificent Winter Palace. The weakness and treachery of his only son has driven his father to an appalling act of cruelty and left the empire without an heir. Russia risks falling into chaos. Into the void steps the woman who has been by his side for decades: his second wife, Catherine Alexeyevna, as ambitious, ruthless and passionate as Peter himself.

Born into devastating poverty, Catherine used her extraordinary beauty and shrewd intelligence to ingratiate herself with Peter’s powerful generals, finally seducing the Tsar himself. But even amongst the splendor and opulence of her new life―the lavish feasts, glittering jewels, and candle-lit hours in Peter’s bedchamber―she knows the peril of her position. Peter’s attentions are fickle and his rages powerful; his first wife is condemned to a prison cell, her lover impaled alive in Red Square. And now Catherine faces the ultimate test: can she keep the Tsar’s death a secret as she plays a lethal game to destroy her enemies and take the Crown for herself?

From the sensuous pleasures of a decadent aristocracy, to the incense-filled rites of the Orthodox Church and the terror of Peter’s torture chambers, the intoxicating and dangerous world of Imperial Russia is brought to vivid life. Tsarina is the story of one remarkable woman whose bid for power would transform the Russian Empire.

“Love, sex and loyalty with war, intrigue and treason create an epic canvas as exotic and powerful as eighteenth-century Russia itself.”

TSARINA will be published November 10th.

ELLEN ALPSTEN was born and raised in the Kenyan highlands. Upon graduating from L’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, she worked as a news anchor for Bloomberg TV London. Whilst working gruesome night shifts on breakfast TV, she started to write in earnest, every day, after work and a nap. Today, Ellen works as an author and as a journalist for international publications such as VogueStandpoint and CN Traveller. She lives in London with her husband, three sons and a moody fox red Labrador. Tsarina is her debut novel.

Thanks to St. Martin Press we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us what you know about Russian History. We’ll choose a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please

#TSARINA @EllenAlpsten_Author @StMartinsPress #Historical #Russia #RussianHistory #ShelfAwareness

MURDER in the PIAZZA by by Jennifer Collins Moore – SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY CLOSED *

In Jennifer Collins Moore’s debut novel, MURDER in the Piazza(LevelBestBooks), Maggie White, a downsized American executive stuck in Rome on her husband’s expat assignment, is finding the dolce vita isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. She’s taken a job offering painting instruction to well-heeled travelers and her boss-a rather unpleasant English lord-has turned up dead in his penthouse. Maggie’s left with a palazzo full of suspicious guests, a valuable painting her boss might have stolen, and a police who’s decided she’s the prime suspect. Now Maggie must keep the tour up and running while she tracks the killer and works to clear her name.

Moore’s debut and the first installment of A MAGGIE WHITE MYSTERY will have you hooked at the first page. You’ll identify with the protagonist, Maggie, her persistence and there are clever twist and turns. You’ll also go on a tour of Rome!

I’m already excited for the 2nd book.


Jen Collins Moore is the author of the Maggie White Mysteries. Her short fiction has appeared in Mystery Weekly, and she is the editor of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest newsletter. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, as well an established marketer and entrepreneur. A transplanted New Englander, she lives in Chicago with her husband and two boys.

http://www.jennifercollinsmoore.com

Thanks TLC Book Tours we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us the latest cozy murder you’ve read. We’ll choose a winner soon. Good luck!

http://www.tlcbooktours.com http://www.jennifercollins moore.com #cozymurder #murder #MaggieWhiteMystery #mystery #MaggieWhite

GIVEAWAY: USA only please

UNLOCKING by Nancy L. Pressly – SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY CLOSED *

UNLOCKING

Reading UNLOCKED: A MEMOIR OF FAMILY and ART (SheWritesPress) was quite enjoyable. I haven’t read any memoirs lately, just fiction, so it was pleasant to change genres. Author, Nancy Pressly is diagnosed with pancreatic-related cancer and it’s a seminal moment for her to look back at her life, but also ahead.

It’s a very personal memoir that examines her determination to fully understand her family’s history. Once diagnosed she goes up to the family attic and there she discovers a treasure full of history and love stories about her family, which she never knew before. The book is divided into three parts which examine her childhood, college years, marriage, having a baby, career which faces challenges and so more. Finally its about Nancy coming to terms with the future assisted by a higher power.

I appreciated her research and ability to really learn intimate information about her family. I yearn to do the same thing about mine (without the cancer), because I don’t know much.

There were times when I confused because I was bombarded by information. She could have broken up the book with more chapters and I believe her editor could have cut some out to make the story tighter. Maybe I experienced that because I’ve been reading fiction.

UNLOCKING made me miss my grandparents terribly and also want to read more memoirs. I also like the cover design. It would be a perfect book for book-clubs.

I have been fortunate to have enjoyed a varied career in the art museum world: as a curator and scholar; as assistant director of the Museum Program at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., where I held a high profile administrator position helping to set policy; and as President of Nancy L. Pressly & Associates, a nationally recognized consulting firm specializing in strategic planning for art museums. My clients included some of the nation’s most important art museums. I was fortunate to be able to travel extensively, gaining an invaluable overview of museums nation-wide.

Married to an art historian, my husband and I have lived abroad and traveled to Europe frequently for our work, learning early in our careers that is was essential not only see original works of art but also the context in which they were created. Travel has continued to be one of my great pleasures, and in the past ten years we have taken some of the best trips of our lives, mainly to Europe, but also to places like Morocco, where we had never been. These trips, no longer respites from work, took on a whole new meaning for me and became essential nourishment to my intellectual life and inner self. Art has always been profoundly important to me. In recent years there has been a new intensity to the way I absorbed what I see, not only works of art but also cityscapes and archaeological sites which are my great passion.  Occasionally I have what I call aha moments, where something I have seen before suddenly comes into more brilliant focus or emotionally resonates in a new way. I retain the experience long afterwards. Some of these experiences inspired passages in Unlocking.

In retirement, I continue to write and travel and, for relaxation, I am an avid cook and passionate gardener and now, living in Georgia, even grow peach trees. Recently I took up ceramics and discovered the joy and challenge of making objects. I cherish my time with my husband and helping our son care for his two wonderful children.

Thanks TLC Book Tours we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us the most interesting book you’ve read about art. We’ll chose a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please

#TLCBookTours #Unlocking #NancyLPressly #Giveaway #SheWritesPress

WHAT’S NOT SAID by Valerie Taylor – SPOTLIGHT & INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY CLOSED *

All Cassie O’Callaghan wants to do is leave her abusive husband, Mike and be with her lover, Chris whom she met five years ago on vacation. But her plans are crushed when she learns Mike has been suffering for years from kidney disease. They’ve been living like roommates in the same house and she has always taken care of Mike and put his needs ahead of hers. This isn’t going to change. In fact, he gets more demanding. But I think you’ll be surprised how this is resolved. Or is it?
Debut author, Valerie Taylor’s novel, WHAT’S NOT SAID (SheWritesPress) is a well thought out story that flows with characters that are pretty unlikable. None of them are flawless. You feel invested once you start reading. WHAT’S NOT SAID hooks you at page one and doesn’t let go until the very end.
Marriage and infidelity – In many ways these are stories we I also like the charming cover design.  know or have heard about, but there are twists and turns in this novel that you don’t see coming. WHAT’S NOT SAID is perfect for book-clubs. All Cassie O’Callaghan wants to do is leave her abusive husband, Mike and be with her lover, Chris whom she met five years ago on vacation. But her plans are crushed when she learns Mike has been suffering for years from kidney disease. They’ve been living like roommates in the same house and she has always taken care of Mike and put his needs ahead of hers. This isn’t going to change. In fact, he gets more demanding. But I think you’ll be surprised how this is resolved. Or is it?
Debut author, Valerie Taylor’s novel, WHAT’S NOT SAID (SheWritesPress) is a well thought out story that flows with characters that are pretty unlikable. None of them are flawless. You feel invested  once you start reading. WHAT’S NOT SAID hooks you at page one and doesn’t let go until the very end.
Marriage and infidelity – In many ways these are stories we all know or have heard about, but there are twists and turns in this novel that you don’t see coming. WHAT’S NOT SAID is perfect for book-clubs. I also appreciate the charming cover

We got the opportunity to ask Valerie about writing WHAT’S NOT SAID.

How difficult was it to write about domestic violence?

That’s a really tough question. I hadn’t considered domestic violence a significant theme in What’s Not Said, but on reflection, I get it.

Both Kassie and Mike aren’t angels. Did you purposely balance them this way?

Funny you should ask. An editor who’d read an early draft remarked that Mike was too much the villain and recommended I give him some redeeming qualities. I tried to be kind to him occasionally, but I didn’t want to let him off the hook.

On the flipside, I showed both sides of Kassie early on—she wasn’t totally innocent.

If you consider Kassie’s character arc, she took care of Mike until she didn’t, and then she did again. And Mike was a scoundrel, but he didn’t really want to lose her, until he was forced to accept that he had to let her go.

So balance? Certainly. I believe in the yin and yang of life.

What’s our obsession as readers with secrets? WE JUST LOVE THEM in a story. Why?

There are secrets, and there are lies. As readers, I think we love solving the secrets and figuring out if and how the lies will matter in the lives of the characters.

Solving secrets gives us power. Did we solve the puzzle before the reader next door, up the street, or in our book club?

Sometimes secrets surprise us, especially if we didn’t follow the breadcrumbs the author has sprinkled along the plot’s path. How many times do we say, “I didn’t see that coming!”?

In real life, secrets can be fun. Secrets often involve whispering and promises. From the time we are children, secrets excite us and spur our imagination, and often make us feel special.

Authors love weaving secrets into stories as a way to infuse intrigue and to motivate the reader to keep turning the pages when they should be turning out the lights.

How do you write? With an outline? What is your technique?

After retiring, I enrolled in a pricey online writing course. I discovered I’m neither a plotter or pantser—I’m a hybrid. In creating What’s Not Said, I wrote a few scenes and then scribbled a couple of key words or bullet points on a notepad. Before ending a session, I wrote the first line of the next scene. I still do this. When I get stuck on a scene, I repeat these words, “Just say it.”

When I completed the first draft, I created a story grid both in longhand and on my laptop. I tracked the purpose, setting, character, action, climax of each scene, enabling me to easily move, delete, or create new scenes.

I revise, edit, and proofread the heck out of my manuscripts. It’s amazing the mistakes I find.

My process for writing the sequel, What’s Not True (She Writes Press, August 24, 2021), was slightly different. Because I hadn’t planned a series until I was encouraged to do so, I sketched out a high level outline which, in retrospect, made writing it easier than the first.

So, you’d think I would’ve learned, eh? Seems I’m back to my original hybrid process as I write the third book in the series. As I approach the middle, the story screams for structure. Where’s that notepad?

Please contact me at: www.valerietaylorauthor.com

Or follow me:

Facebook.com/valerietaylorauthor

Twitter: @ValerieEMTaylor

Instagram ValerieETaylor

Valerie Taylor was born and raised in Stamford, Connecticut. She graduated twice from Sacred Heart University in CT with a B.S. Business Administration and an MBA. She climbed the proverbial ladder in her early years at Xerox and then helped launch Executive Development Associates, a start-up executive education and coaching firm. There she dabbled in writing business communications and newsletters.

Her writing career took off when she joined Optima Group, and then later Clarion Brand Communications, where she focused on branding and crafting dozens of retirement planning programs for banks, mutual fund companies, and insurance companies. Because of her reputation in this niche, Russell Investments recruited her to join the firm in Washington State. During her ten-year tenure there, Valerie led the firm’s defined contribution marketing efforts for both pre- and post-retirement investment programs.

After a Rick Steves’ tour to Venice, Florence, and Rome, Valerie retired and returned home to CT in 2016 where her children have grown up and settled. When she’s not writing, reading, practicing tai chi or cheering for the Boston Red Sox or the New England Patriots, she’s sharing her wisdom and values with her granddaughter, who’s growing up way too fast.


Professional affiliations:
The Authors’ Guild, Independent Book Publishers Association, CT Authors and Publishers Association, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association

Thanks to I-READ Book Tours we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us the best book you’ve ever read about marriage. We’ll choose soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please 

#newrelease #chicklit #womensfiction #romance #giveaway

HOME FOR BABY’S SAKE by Christine Rimmer ** SPOTLIGHT ** EXCERPT

He’d do anything for his son…

…Including returning to the town he left behind.
Valentine Bay’s the perfect place for real estate developer Roman Marek to raise his infant son. But when he snaps up the charming local theater, he doesn’t bargain for tempestuous director Hailey Bravo. Hailey won’t let Roman wreck the thing she holds most dear—and she’s certainly gotten under Roman’s notoriously thick skin. As the duo spar and sparks fly, Roman’s surprised to find that Hailey’s the perfect missing piece for his family. But how can he convince her that this partnership’s for keeps?

Excerpt, HOME FOR THE BABY’S SAKE by Christine Rimmer

When she arrived at the fish place on Ocean Road, Roman was waiting outside for her, lean­ing against a sleek black sports car—the famous one made in Italy, with doors that opened upward, like wings.

“This car,” she said, shaking her head, trailing a finger along the gleaming hood. “You’d better write the arts council a check, Roman Marek.”

He put his hand to his broad, hard chest, right over his heart. “You have my solemn word on that.”

They went inside. The food was excellent, as always, and being with Roman was easy and fun. Even the silences were comfortable. He said he’d moved back to town from Las Vegas and bought a house on Treasure Cove Circle. Hailey knew the house. It was a mansion nestled in its own private oceanfront reserve, surrounded by beautiful old-growth forest, overlooking a secluded stretch of beach.

“I want to see you again,” he said as he walked her back out to her car. She gave him her number and when he gathered her close, she didn’t resist.

The kiss was just right, a tender, sweet getting-to-know-you kind of kiss. His lips felt so good brushing against her own, and excitement sizzled through her. They both pulled back slowly and just stood there at the driver’s door of her Kia Sportage, grinning at each other for a long string of lovely seconds.

“See you soon,” he said as he pulled open the driver’s door for her.

She climbed in and he shut the door. Then he stood there, the afternoon sun gleaming on his dark brown hair, as she backed from the parking space and drove away.

For the rest of the day, Hailey felt like the liv­ing, breathing representation of some old roman­tic song. She walked on air and danced on clouds. She’d met a guy she wanted to see again. That hadn’t happened since Nathan.

She couldn’t stop smiling as she sat at the kitchen table in the family cottage she shared with Harper and worked on her plans for the Christmas show—which desperately needed an actual name. Later in the afternoon, she was back at the theater, greeting the parents as they dropped off their chil­dren for Fall Revue rehearsals.

It was the usual circus, corralling all the kids, giving them instructions that they immediately forgot. There was some pushing and one of the little girls cried. Hailey consoled and coaxed and loved every minute of it—she always did. But somehow, more so today.

Because she kind of had butterflies over Roman Marek, and for three long years she’d honestly be­lieved that all her butterflies had shriveled up and died.

A NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY  bestselling author, Christine Rimmer has written more than one hundred contemporary romances for Harlequin Books.  She consistently writes emotional, humorous, sensual stories that keep her readers coming back for more.  Christine has won Romantic Times BOOKreview’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for best Silhouette Special Edition.  She has been nominated six times for the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award and also five times for Romantic TimesSeries Storyteller of the Year.

A California native who first longed to be an actress, Christine earned her theater degree from California State, Sacramento and then went to New York to study acting.  Later, she moved to Southern California, where she began her writing career with short stories, plays, and poems. Her poems and short stories were published in a number of small literary journals. Her plays were produced at The Back Alley and Group Theaters in Southern California and have been published by Dramatists Play Service and West Coast Plays.

Christine lives in Oregon with her family.

http://www.christinerimmer.com