Saturday, March 26, 2016

In the Spotlight: NIKKI, Quarry Hall Book 5

Nikki lives a faerie tale existence, but after a chance encounter with Joan Archer, she starts to rethink her choices. Brock has changed since convincing Nikki to run away from home. Now his goal is to protect her from his drug lord boss. When his DEA contacts say they can't protect Nikki, Brock must act. He must break her heart to drive her away to be safe.

Ashamed to be the prodigal, Nikki doesn't go straight home. Joan and the Quarry Hall sisters find her and start her healing and the journey home. When the drug lord decides to bring Nikki back use her to camouflage the organization's activities, he kidnaps her. Quarry Hall and its friends marshal their resources to find her before it is too late.


"Please, Lord, help me. Show me what to do." Nikki shook her head and watched the teardrops fall on the Bible's pages. "I know what I have to do, but I don't want to. I'm a coward. I'm selfish. I'm--" She slid to her knees again, resting her head on the open Bible, sobbing.

She didn't hear the door open, didn't feel anything until Brock caught her by her elbow and lifted her to her feet.

"You are pathetic! How long are you going to lay around, crying and talking to a God who sure isn't listening? Can't you figure out what you need to do? What's it going to be, Nikki? Me or that baby?"

Later, all that she could remember clearly was that he called it a baby, not a thing, a problem.

She knew what she had to say, what she should say, but the words still caught in her throat.

"Are you gonna abort it, or not?" He dropped her on the bed. "How long are you going to put us through this?"

"I can't--"

He swung back, agony twisting his face. Time slowed, but she couldn't move out of the way as his hand came down and connected hard with her face. Her vision shattered, her neck snapped back and half a heartbeat later she was airborne. The thud when she hit the wall seemed to deafen her and knock the air from her lungs. Nikki slid down, gasping and blinking.

Brock snatched up her Bible and tore it apart at the spine. He yanked and ripped and threw pages across the bed, then across the room.

"Choose!" He threw the cover into her face and stormed out.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: RUINED, by Paula Morris

Sometimes you get the nicest surprises in raffle baskets.

This YA book came in a basket I won at a writing conference, and like so many others in my to-be-read bookrack (3 shelves still) it has been waiting more than a year for me to pick it up. I finally grabbed enough books to fill the small folding bookholder that sits on the table next to my bed, committed on Goodreads to actually read these specific titles, and now I'm going through them. It's actually turning into a good system -- you commit, you've written it down somewhere, and you actually go through with it ....

This one is rather sad, and a little disturbing, when you get down to it -- but I can't tell you the disturbing part without giving away so much of the story! Other than to say that some people are so selfish and consider themselves entitled to the point that they will do in their own family so they can come out on top.  Question: Why don't people ever learn that in trying to evade a prophecy, or twist it to end up your way, you're actually causing the prophecy to come true?

What's it about? Well, Rebecca is a New York girl sent to live with some relatives in New Orleans -- only she's pretty sure her aunt and cousin aren't really blood relatives -- when her father goes to China on company business. Immediately she is flung into the conflict of the class struggle in the microcosm of an exclusive girls' school. She's an outsider, a nobody, as the girls tell her, outright or with every action and look and word. Her "aunt" is an unique character, with her own style, and tells fortunes for a living. Then there's the cemetery across the street, and the snobby kids who go into the cemetery at night to hang out. As you would expect, one of the snobby boys turns out to be angsty and unhappy with how his "gang" treats other people, and he seems to want to be friends with Rebecca. What isn't expected is that one of the friends Rebecca makes is a ghost living in the cemetery.

Secrets and curses and prophecies and class struggle and the excesses and snobbery of Mardi Gras and krewes and a strong taste and feel for what it's like in NOLA in the winter ... this one grabs your attention and carries you along to a satisfying and sad ending.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

In the Spotlight: DARCY, Quarry Hall Book 4

Black Ops doesn’t begin to describe Vincent’s former paramilitary team.

When a friend of the Arc Foundation requests help for a rescue mission facing scandal, he learns two former teammates are involved. Vincent must investigate for the sake of his conscience, but can his instincts be trusted? Who has reformed, and who still waits to destroy those who betrayed him years ago, when their team disintegrated?

Joan comes along, to provide balance and a second pair of eyes. Josh is in charge of renovations. Karl is the fundraiser. Darcy, Josh’s daughter, is an idealistic young woman ready to give her life for what she believes. As Vincent and Joan track down the enemies of the mission, they uncover lies and an insidious scheme, with Darcy as pawn and prize.


"Coals," Josh murmured. "A new gang," he flung over his shoulder as he broke into a run. Vincent followed. They were only half a block away from Darcy, but right that moment it seemed like miles.

Knives flashed. The three Coals blocked Vincent's view of Darcy. The sidewalk cleared and the traffic on the cluttered street seemed to come to a standstill. A little old lady shrieked. It sounded more like injured pride than pain to Vincent's ears. Then he heard dull thuds and sharp smacking sounds; flesh against flesh.

"Darcy!" Josh shouted as he flung himself onto the back of the nearest Coal. The two went down in a heap.

A second gang member turned, swinging his knife at Vincent. From this close, it looked more like a short sword than a knife. Vincent ducked and turned, kicking high. His foot hit the target, bones snapped, and the Coal went down, shouting in pain, holding his hand. The knife went flying. Vincent turned, looking for the third -- Josh had his opponent well in hand, kneeling on his back and twisting an arm behind him.

The leader of the trio faced Darcy. He had her backed into a doorway, surrounded by barrels and crates of trash, with the Plinkney sisters cowering behind her. Darcy held a four-foot length of rusty, one-inch pipe in a two-handed grip, crouching low, eyes narrowed as she studied her opponent. Her sweatshirt sleeve gaped where it had been sliced and blood soaked into the material, radiating out in a spreading stain, turning the green cloth purple. Darcy seemed not to notice the wound.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: FLIRTING WITH DISASTER, by Rhonda Stapleton

I always like to pick up books in a series -- and books by people I know -- so FLIRTING WITH DISASTER already had points in its favor before I picked it up.

To be honest, it's been sitting on my shelf for more than a year .... but as anyone who regularly visits here knows, sometimes my goal of at least one book a week ... falls by the wayside. I have so many deadlines of my own, sometimes it takes me two and three weeks to get to the end of a book that I'm reading just for pleasure and fun.

And this book is both.

This is the second book in the STUPID CUPID series, a YA series that's teen angst and comedy and high school torment and romance. Felicity is ... Cupid. Or at least she's one of thousands of modern cupids, using technology to make matches. Only sometimes things don't quite go according to plan. Face it, the girl -- a high school student -- has a lot to learn about putting people together. Especially when it comes to "easy solutions" for her own heartache problems and making her best friends happy.

I won't give too much away by telling you what's essentially on the back cover copy -- Felicity matches up one of her friends, who promptly forgets all the rules of being a BFF for the sake of the guy ... and then matches up the boy she's been in love with for years, to end her own angst and temptation ... and by mistake makes the entire school fall in love with him. Fortunately the initial love spell only lasts a few weeks, but a lot of things happen in those weeks.

Lots of fun, some deep wisdom and lessons learned. You'll grin and sigh and nod and sympathize your way through this book -- and the series.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

In the Spotlight: KATHRYN, Quarry Hall Book 3

Kathryn's retreat for relaxation and contemplation is interrupted to take a fugitive to safety, beyond the reach of authorities who may be compromised. The injured woman knows her name is Regina, but not why people were shooting at her. The journey to reach a friend in the FBI is complicated when Kathryn's illness requires frequent stops, permitting Regina's pursuers to nip at their heels.

When the mountains interfere with cell reception, and she can't stop long enough to make a call for help and advice, Kathryn has only her companion dog, her own wits, and prayer to depend on. Deception waits around every corner and Regina's attitude tests Kathryn's sympathy and her faith.


Regina muttered her farewell and scrambled into the truck. Kathryn stayed leaning against the front of the truck, scratching Bea behind the ears and talking with Pastor Small. She knew her companion wanted to get out of there, but she also knew the minister had questions. He had been patient and helpful and accepted what she told him. She couldn't repay him any other way except with as many answers as she could safely give.

"I really appreciate this," she said. "Not many people these days will help strangers with such a flimsy explanation."

"That isn't reason enough?" Pastor Small laughed and gestured over his shoulder at the white steeple with the gray metal cross on top.

"It should be, but--" She decided not to get into that area.

Sometimes the nastiest, most uncooperative people she had run across in her journeys were people who claimed to be Christians. Nine times out of ten, they based their long lists of what a "real" Christian should be on their own opinions and schemes to earn their way into heaven, and never checked what the Bible said.

"What really convinced you? Back when we were talking in the sanctuary, there was a moment when I thought you were going to throw us out or call the police, then you changed your mind."

"Those." He pointed at the shoes the custodian had given her.

"Oh. Sorry." She went to one knee and started to untie the paint-spattered sneakers.

"No, you ought to keep them." Pastor Small bent down and caught hold of her arm, tugging her upright again. "Four years ago, our youth group put together a time capsule as a joke when they renovated their classroom. Those are my shoes. It was quite a mess, with all the painting we did. We had a great time." He winked. "Those shoes should be in a locked metal box three feet underground, sealed in plastic wrap and cement."

"You're kidding." Kathryn felt a chill race up her back, but it was a good chill.

"Plus," he continued with a lopsided smile, "we don't have a custodian right now. The deacons and trustees and the ladies mission groups and other committees take turns with the upkeep and cleaning. The place hasn't looked this good in years..." Pastor Small tried to laugh. "Whoever -- or whatever -- helped you, he wanted you to be here. Who am I to argue?"

Monday, March 7, 2016

Do you visit GOODREADS?

I hope you visit Goodreads regularly -- but if you don't, then start NOW!


Because I give away FREE BOOKS on Goodreads -- they're called Giveaways -- and that's the tab you want to look for under the Explore section. Or you can click here on GIVEAWAYS. Isn't that easy?

Starting today, I am giving away 2 copies of SUNSINGER, the first book in the Sunsinger YA science fiction series, belonging to my Commonwealth Universe. The giveaway will last 2 weeks.

After that, a new giveaway starts, with a copy of SPACER'S CREED, the 2nd book in the Sunsinger series. Every 2 weeks, a new book to give away, until we get all the way through to Book 10, SCOUTS.

And there are tons of other books being given away FREE on Goodreads every day. If I didn't have so many books piled up, waiting to be read, both in my to-be-read bookrack and in my iPad, I might be haunting the Giveaways page every couple of days and entering more giveaway drawings.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

In the Spotlight: ANNE, Quarry Hall Book 2

After a rough assignment catching people out to destroy battered women's shelters, Anne needed a break. Being assigned to observe operations at Common Grounds Legal Clinic seemed like a cake assignment. Xander Finley, the head lawyer, was a friend of Joan, already supported by the Arc Foundation. Arc was simply expanding its support.

But then Anne was carjacked, her guard dog, Argus, shot. She was already off-balance, worried about Argus and wearing borrowed clothes, and things got worse from day one. Face-to-face with someone from her painful past and feeling antagonism from Xander's employees, Anne stumbled into one problem after another. Her frustration grew when allies became enemies, and she was accused of entrapment and then attempted murder. How come prayer was her last resort, when it should have been her first reaction to every problem?


"I'm your first hold-up, huh?"

He nodded. Anne held out her hand again. He looked at her hand, looked back over his shoulder at the grocery store, looked at Argus. The big dog was quiet now, still standing on alert, teeth still bared, advertising his willingness to bite the minute the young gunman did anything wrong. Just because Vincent trained all the Quarry Hall dogs to never bite, that didn't mean they couldn't or wouldn't threaten to bite. It was amazing, Anne reflected, what the power of suggestion could do in a tense situation.

"Look, couldn't you just... like forget I was here?"

"I'm soaking wet. Tomorrow's lunch is in a puddle. I'm going to have one doozy of a bruise in the morning. Getting held up after a day of driving in the rain is not going to be easy to forget!" She managed a grin, though the shakes were working their way up from her guts.

Please, Lord, don't let me get stupid, now. My guardian angel has already been working overtime lately.

"No, you have to let me go."

"You need help. Nobody decides just to take somebody else's total worldly goods without some kind of reason." Anne reached into her pocket.

"What're you --"

"Just let me give you my card. It has a number you can call for help. That's what we do. We help people. Even dumb ones." She grinned wider, and pulled out her wallet. The keys came with it, falling to the ground with a jangle-splash sound.

"How about you give me all your money and I let you keep the truck and we call it quits?" he said, his voice shaking a little. The gun lowered a tiny bit more. Still not low enough to suit Anne. She had a mental image of the gun going off, the bullet bouncing off the pavement and hitting her somewhere totally embarrassing.

The grocery store door squeaked open, distracting them both. He turned a little, raising his gun. Argus growled.

"Argus --"

"Hey, what's going on over there?" a man shouted. He stepped out into the parking lot lights, revealing himself as tall, balding, dressed in dark slacks, white shirt, and the long red apron the store workers wore.

"Don't tell them anything!" the gunman demanded, his hand shaking now. He took a step backwards and pointed the gun at Anne.

Argus leaped, aiming for the gunman's chest, to knock him to the ground as trained.

"No! Down!" she screamed.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Coming Series! ODESSA FREMONT, prologue to "Guardians of the Time Stream"

Are you ready for some time travel, gizmos, and tough chicks? In April, ODESSA FREMONT, the prequel to my Guardians of the Time Stream steampunk series will be released by Desert Breeze Publishing. 

This could be labeled a YA, as Ess is only 14 when she decides to run away from boarding school. By the time she screeches to a halt at the end of the book -- thanks to train robbers, the Pinkertons and a bullet! -- she's worked with the Secret Service and saved President Lincoln's life (so he can run for a 4th term!) and worked for the circus. 

So what's she going to do once she turns 17? Find out about her career as a Pinkerton when she runs into the BLUE LOTUS SOCIETY in September!

Ain't this the COOLEST cover you've ever seen?????