Friday, 17 August 2018

Review: Deceive and Defend by Marilyn Cohen De Villiers



Deceive and Defend by Marilyn Cohen De Villiers
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 960 KB
Print Length: 338 pages
Publisher: Mapolaje Publishers (13 Jun. 2018)
Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
Language: English

Amazon UK      Amazon US 


 Like a pebble dropped in a pond, the effects of two deaths—one in the Johannesburg home of the wealthy Silverman family; the second, hundreds of kilometres away on a Free State farm—ripple across South Africa and the world, irrevocably changing the lives of four people: 

Tracy Jacobs who desperately wants journalism’s highest laurels… and also yearns for love. Now she must choose between saving her career or defending her chance of happiness;

Aviva Silverman who wants nothing more than to live happily ever after with her adored new family. Now she must place it all at risk to defend the family she left behind;

Carol Aronowitz, dedicated social worker who prides herself on her professionalism . Now she must find a way to defend herself against clear evidence of incompetence that has had disasterous consequences; and 

Yair Silverman, Aviva's twin brother, who stands to lose everything as he takes a drastic decision to deceive everyone.

Set against the backdrop of South Africa’s post-Mandela decline, Deceive and Defend is as current and thought provoking as today’s headlines.




Most of the time when I sign up to review a book, a few months pass between agreeing to do so and the actual time I get around to reading the said book. Usually, I've forgotten the blurb information and dive in blind. Then, there's a time like this one, when a coincidence and timing is poignant...My head was already filled with all things about South Africa after saying a final goodbye to a relative born and raised there. Picking up to begin reading Deceive and Defend the following day was a wonderful, welcome surprise...an opportunity to continue remembering happier times not only of a special person but of a country I am lucky enough to have visited more than once as I absorbed myself into the addictive narrative.

This is the third book in the Silverman Saga and my first. What really stands out is how the author enables a new reader to her work like myself to jump into the narrative running...especially impressive when I often struggle when trying to retain lots of new information, because I never once felt overwhelmed with either names or the plot threads. The prologue is shocking and hooked me in and I couldn't get enough. Told from five different points of view, each plot-line flows effortlessly as they intertwined with each other, offering a chance for the reader to enjoy a different perspective. Each person is dealing with life-changing issues which impact the others.

The author paints a rich landscape of life in Johannesburg and the Jewish community there. I'm a huge fan of learning anything new whilst reading a work of fiction and Deceive and Defend had me Googling facts I either wasn't sure about or simply because I wanted to gain more knowledge. In addition, I loved the inclusion of contemporary headlines to add sensationalism to the narrative. It definitely gave an unexpected 'wow' factor to an already enticing and intriguing novel.

To say I am dumbfounded after finishing this book is an understatement. The words flow effortlessly and I want more. In a year when I decided to branch out with my reading choices, this is one of the ones that will stand out on my favourites list. To sum up, a fabulous book in its own right, but I definitely want to read the first two; A Beautiful Family and When Time Fails to experience the back story of the Silverman Saga.

***review copy received courtesy of Mapolaje Publishing***



I was born and raised in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, the youngest daughter of an extraordinarily ordinary, happy, stable, traditional (rather than observant) Jewish family. After matriculating at Northview High School, I went to Rhodes University in Grahamstown where I served on the SRC, competed (badly) in synchronised swimming and completed a B. Journalism degree. This was followed by a “totally useless” – according to my parents – English Honours (first class), also at Rhodes.
With the dawning of the turbulent 1980s, I started my career as a reporter on a daily newspaper, working first in the news and later, the finance departments. During this period, I interviewed, among others, Frank Sinatra, Jeffrey Archer, Eugene Terre’blanche and Desmond Tutu. I caught crocodiles; avoided rocks and tear smoke canisters in various South African townships; stayed awake through interminable city council meetings and criminal and civil court cases – and learned to interpret balance sheets.
I also married my news editor, Poen de Villiers and, despite all the odds against us coming as we did from totally different backgrounds, we remained happily married for 32 years and three days. Poen passed away as a result of diabetes complications on 15 March, 2015.
After the birth of our two daughters, I ‘crossed over’ into Public Relations with its regular hours and predictability.  My writing – articles, media releases, opinion and thought leadership pieces and so on – was published regularly in newspapers and other media, usually under someone else’s by-line. But after more than 20 years, I decided the time had come to go it alone. I now work as a freelance wordsmith which (theoretically) gives me more time to focus on what I love best – writing fiction.
So why, after a lifetime of writing non-fiction, did I decide to try my hand at fiction? The catalyst was the unexpected death of a childhood friend and colleague in 2012. This spurred me to take stock of my life, to think about what I had achieved.  A few months later, I decided to try and write a novel. This turned out to be A Beautiful Family which was published in July 2014.  The fiction bug had bitten, and my second novel, When Time Fails, was launched in September 2015. Now, the third and final novel in the Silverman Saga Trilogy, Deceive and Defend, is launching in June 2018… and novel number 4 is percolating in my head.


Thursday, 16 August 2018

New Release Spotlight: Fling Club by Tara Brown



Title: Fling Club
Author: Tara Brown
Release Date: August 14, 2018
Publisher: Skyscape


For the young, rich, and beautiful, summertime in the Hamptons means one thing: Fling Club. Only this time, Cherry Kennedy won’t be selecting a boy for a fleeting romance. Nope, this season, Cherry is out for revenge. Her target? The Fling Club founder and society darling who slept with Cherry’s now-very-ex-boyfriend. And all Cherry needs is the perfect guy for her plan… Ashley Jardine can’t afford to refuse. He scored almost a full ride to MIT. But that almost still costs a lot. And this is so much money for a little game of revenge and a chance—albeit short—to live the high life. Here, rich girls rule the shore, and everyone has a role to play. Only nothing in the job description warned Ashley that the redhead who’s running the scheme would be so crazy. And cute. Or that he wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about her. Now, everything is going according to plan—until an unexpected attraction raises the stakes. It’s enough to turn the perfect payback into absolute heartbreak.

Fling Club Inspirations by Tara Brown

My book releasing is Fling Club, sort of like Fight Club but with romance.

The fabulous main characters are Cherry and Ashley, an unlikely match. It’s opposites attract to the extreme. Cherry is a spoiled rich girl with a serious problem, how to get revenge on the mean girl ruining her life. And Ashley is a sexy, geeky MIT scholarship student who doesn’t fit in her world. He doesn’t even want to. He can't stand the rich elite and makes no bones about sharing that opinion.

Cherry’s from a rich family and went to school at a private, well known academy where the expectations from parents are demanding. She is demure and reliable, a doormat like most of her friends. Letting parents and guys take the lead in their lives. 

After summers of the boys running the shore and parents ruling their lives, the girls decided to take back the power. One girl in particular. She created Fling Club, a fun way to control the dating and socializing the young women were expected to participate in. The head mean girl who runs it, Cait, is every young woman’s nightmare. Controlling, conniving, and completely self-centered. If you have a social life and friends, it’s because Cait allowed it. She has all the parents and every guy on the shore fooled, while all the young women are terrified of crossing her.

When Cherry catches Cait in bed with her boyfriend, the fake friendship is off just as the summer is beginning, meaning Cherry has to come up with a plan for revenge against her frenemy.

With the help of her sarcastic and judgmental brother, Andy, and her pessimistic and evil genius sister, Ella, Cherry is about to wreak havoc on Fling Club, and Cait.

This is where Ashley comes into the plan. He is the bait. Sexy, funny, sarcastic, and just arrogant enough that they don't have to worry about him falling for Cait while she is falling for him. But after a couple weeks together, the plan is threatened when Ashley and Cherry start falling for each other.

He desperately wants Cherry to see that she is so much more than she pretends to be, and that fitting into her world isn't worth the price she is paying. And once she starts seeing herself the way he does, she realizes how much she hates the person she has always pretended to be.

Fling Club, which used to be called The Exception to the Summer Fling, is an old story I wrote a decade ago but never published. It came to me when I was driving. I was crossing North America, moving from the West Coast to the East for my husband’s work in 2008. My girls were watching movies in the backseat, kid's movies. So I got to listen to that the entire six day drive.

I don't even remember the movie they were watching, I think it was a Barbie movie, maybe Princess and the Pauper, but it got me envisioning the moment Cait marched back and forth in front of the new recruits, cruelly telling them the rules of the summer fling club. (Being a HUGE fan of Cruel Intentions and Gossip Girl, of course I already had a stable of possible plots for mean rich girls.)

The story really formed when I got Cait down in my head, thanks to the long drive and the kids movies.

Cait needed to be that sweet and powerful girl the parents would respect and want their daughters to emulate. But she also needed to be terrifying and controlling so the girls went along with whatever she demanded of them. Even if it was disturbing. Of course, Cait is similar to Kathryn from Cruel Intentions, she is calculating and cold. Almost sociopathic in her nature. But I decided to spin the story a little and make our poor little victim, her equal in social rank.

Cherry might be the weaker link at the start of this story, but she comes from a good family with a lot of money. And as the story progressed she evolved from the damsel in distress who can't cope with anything into a strong young woman. I wanted her to be victim of the story but then I also wanted her to be the savior. Her own savior. I like that love helped her find herself, but she needed to do the work.

I think we nailed that, and the way the characters are meant to make you hate them. I wanted the readers' feelings to grow and change as the characters did. Cait is unbearably horrible and yet somehow relatable once we have all the facts. Cherry is weak and pathetic to start but grows into someone we liked in the end. And we made the bad guy someone you didn't expect.

I love the idea that there is an underbelly in the wealthy world, a place we don't see because they hide it from us. And I adore the meet cute we have created for the entire series of standalone novels, the Post-it Note Wall.

Welcome to the Serendipity Series, starting with Fling Club.




Fling Club Excerpt

I called my brother. “Hey, Cherry. Look, I can’t talk—”

Cait’s sleeping with Griffin,” I blurted out, cutting off whatever excuse he was about to make.

What? Who?” It took him half a second to connect the dots. “Seriously? How do you know?”

I just caught them.” My words had turned to a whisper. I was ashamed of my former friends for betraying me, and of myself for having been so naive. I knew Andy would call me stupid and tell me I deserved what I got for dating a Griffin, and that I was a sheeple like Mom and Cait, and—

Oh, Cherry. I’m so sorry. Neither of those asshats deserves you.”

That reaction, I didn’t expect. Andy’s kindness broke me. Angry tears flooded my eyes, and before I could help it, I was blubbering and ranting in front of a platform full of strangers. I’d called Andy because I needed his sarcasm to toughen me up and put me on the defensive. I needed to be strong, like him. But instead he gave me tenderness, something I couldn’t handle at the moment.

You’re lovely and sweet and kind. And you would never do something like that to anyone. Not even an enemy. I’ll come get you; tell me where you are.”

I—I’m going home. I’m at the train. I feel sick.” My words were coming out in gasps.

Screw them both. Let them have each other. I never liked that idiot. He’s like Mom and Cait. He thinks his blue blood earns him the right to everything—clearly. They’re selfish people, Cherry. Selfish and stupid and blind. I’m glad he showed his true colors before you got too invested in him.”

Not wanting Andy to know I was as invested as I could be, I stayed silent while he shouted and ranted all the things big brothers said to sad little sisters. “I should beat the piss outta him! Want me to kick his ass? I’ll go find a couple of friends and we can make sure he doesn’t show up for—”

No.” I sniffled. “I just—” What did I want?

Listen. Go home and take a hot bath, drink a bottle of wine, and try to get some sleep. I’ll come get you in a week. We’ll go to New York and get trashed, and you—”

Sleep!” I snapped, finally losing the hold I had on my ferocity. “You think I could sleep right now? I’m not Mom, Andy. I can’t just take something and coast through shit like this.”

Okay, don’t sleep. Try eating a whole sheet cake and plotting their deaths. They aren’t worth the energy you’re putting into being pissed off. I’ve never understood how you were friends with her. Or part of her club. Which, by the way, she only started because Wendell cheated on her with that chick from Derby. It’s ironic, because then she turns around and does this to you.”

Andy, I don’t care why she started it,” I groaned, wiping my eyes. “I don’t care that someone cheated on her in high school. I care that she’s currently sleeping with my boyfriend—”

Cherry, take a breath. If you’re crying, you’re losing it.”

I heaved, realizing I was blind with rage and tears.

If you can’t get past this with a simple cake, then I don’t know what to say. If I ever make the mistake of falling in love again, it’ll be with some girl in a different financial bracket. This is why we don’t date our kind.”

Yeah, great advice now!” I spit my words, feeling the fury building.

Don’t lose control! You’re in public, and you’re a Kennedy for God’s sake. We don’t lose it in front of strangers. Plus, you’ll be upset you didn’t cry in the shower like a winner.”

Shut up!” I hated him sometimes.

Cherry, getting upset and ruining your summer is pointless; you’re the only one who suffers. They’ll win. They’ll ruin your last summer before college is over and the real world hits. Don’t let them do that to you.”

What should I do then?” I burst again, sobbing.

I don’t know. Maybe take her down. Get revenge. Just whatever you do, don’t go back to that moron, Chatsworth.”

I won’t.” I sighed. “I can’t talk about this anymore. I’ll text you later.”

Trust me, eat the cake. It will make you feel better. Do that before you do anything else. My friend Angela swears by it.” He laughed bitterly and hung up.

But I didn’t focus on the cake or the bath or the wine. My mind was stuck on the one thing Andy had said that was useful, on repeat.

Get revenge.

And I would.

***

The international bestselling author of Roommates and the Puck Buddies series, Tara Brown writes in a variety of genres. In addition to her comedic Single Lady Spy series, she has also published popular contemporary and paranormal romances, science fiction, thrillers, and romantic comedies. She especially enjoys writing dark and moody tales, often focusing on strong female characters who are more inclined to vanquish evil than perpetrate it. She shares her home with her husband, two daughters, two cats, an Irish wolfhound, and a Maremma Sheepdog. Find out more about Tara by visiting www.TaraBrownAuthor.com.





Book Blitz, The Last Resistance: Dragon Tomb by Ricardo Alexanders


The Last Resistance: Dragon Tomb by Ricardo Alexanders
Series n/a; standalone
Genre Adult Historical Sci Fi Fantasy
Publisher Independent
Publication Date November 8, 2017








Set in World War II China, fantasy author Ricardo Alexanders takes you on an action-packed thrill ride full of twists and turns in DRAGON TOMB.

While defending his country against Japanese invasion, archaeologist Chuan-Jay Hoo is taken as a prisoner of war when a behind-enemy-lines rescue mission goes horribly wrong. His captors force him to take part in the excavation of an ancient tomb, a process that unearths the true origin of Chinese civilization.

The excavation ends; but China is still in dire need of help. Teamed up with American adventurer Dr. Harry Jones, a close friend of President Roosevelt, Chuan-Jay returns to the tomb and convinces the guardians of the tomb to interfere human affairs.

The tide of the war is turned but no one sees what is coming next: the rise of an otherworldly evil. Neither the Allies nor the Axis powers can stand in its way. Soon, our world is at the brink of Armageddon. At the final moment of human civilization, Chuan-Jay finds himself standing alone in the tomb of the First King, as the last line of defense for the survival of mankind.

Intro
The year is 1939. An expedition to the most mysterious tomb in China awakes a nameless force and changes the fate of mankind forever… In the prison camp, protagonist Chuan-Jay (CJ) Hoo stumbles into Akagi Hikoichi, his old roommate at Boston University and the commander of the Japanese expedition force. One night, Akagi confesses that he is looking for the Ninth Cauldron, a mythical device said to be buried with the First King. He tells CJ that Japan can win the war with the power of the Ninth Cauldron and he has convinced Emperor Hirohito about that. CJ does not believe a word out of Akagi’s mouth.
Dragon Stone
This is crazy talk, Akagi! Xia may have existed and the tomb could be under one of these hills. But the dragon and all that supernatural crap… I don’t know how you even convinced yourself. Akagi, you are an archaeologist!”
You will believe me once you see this.” Akagi reached into a hidden pocket in his winter jacket and took out an eyeglass case. He opened the case. There was the necklace CJ had seen many times from a distance.
Akagi picked up the chain and let the small, slightly blackish pendant dangle in the air.
Diamond?”
Yes. Take a look.” Akagi nodded.
CJ took the necklace from him. It appeared to be an emerald-shaped solitaire diamond with a slightly dark-reddish hint. It looked like about one carat, not too big, not too small, with one end sitting on a four-pronged white-gold setting. Dangling in front of Akagi’s gas lamp, the stone’s surface appeared to be smooth and shiny.
A small stone with visible inclusions. What about it?”
Take a close look.” Akagi handed him the magnifying lens.
Something is inside.
CJ realized this immediately, as there were some strange reflections of light from within the diamond.
The polarizer,” Akagi reminded him.
As he held the lens, CJ’s jaw hit the ground. The inside of the diamond was like nothing CJ had seen before. Beneath the hard surface was a core with the shape of two identical tetrahedrons superimposed over each other in opposite directions. The core looked purple and appeared to be spinning clockwise, like it was floating on water in the middle of the hardest thing in the world.
Even more bizarre, the core appeared to have a mind of its own. Most of the time, it spun at a very low speed. Sometimes it would speed up a little, then slow itself down. Its rotation totally disregarded the motion of the diamond.
What…How…” CJ, dumbstruck, finally managed to utter a few incoherent words.
It is called the heart of the stone. The corner pointing up channels energy down from the sky to the Earth; and the one pointing downwards draws energy up from the Earth. Together, they create a perfect balance.”
What is this stone?”
It was said to be the amulet of the First King. According to my secret scrolls, he lost it in one of his last battles. When it resurfaced about twenty-seven hundred years ago, it was named the Dragon Stone. Others call it the Blood Dragon Stone.”
The secret scrolls? Can I read them?”
No, you can’t. They are locked safely in my museum in Tokyo. About another thousand years later, the Dragon Stone showed up again briefly before it disappeared from this world.”
It is indeed out of this world.” CJ agreed on this part. “How did you find it?”
I bought it. The guy I bought it from said it was kept in his family from the time of Xia.”
He lied, just trying to score a sale.” CJ knew the antique business too well and had not heard of anyone in China with a family tree that could trace back to the time of the Xia Dynasty.
He probably did. But when I took it back to Tokyo and studied it, it really fit the pieces of information of the Dragon Stone that I pieced together from those scrolls.”
According to the -quote- Secret Scroll -unquote- again.”
It was also said that part of the king’s soul had grown into this stone and it will wake up once it gets close to the king’s dead body.”
So that is why you were…”
Yes. Every time I put it close to my heart, I can feel something special, maybe the soul of the First King.”
Really? Can I try it?”
No. Not unless you agree to join me.”
No. Like I said before, I am not going to help you steal our national treasures.”
Not so quickly, CJ. Think it through.”
What’s to think through?”
Well, let me give you a little hint. You probably already know that this is a top-secret mission. The whole expedition force was shipped directly from Japan and operated under a fake unit name. Only our highest commander in China, General Yasuji Okamura, was briefed. So…” Akagi stopped for a second. “At the end of the mission... I am pretty sure you know what I mean.”
CJ fully understood Akagi’s words.
I can get you out alive. So think about it. Don’t rush.”
Not saying anything, CJ stood up and prepared to leave.
You speak perfect Japanese. I might even be able to get you a Japanese passport.” Akagi added, “Then you can go wherever you want and do whatever you want.”

Ricardo is a descendant of the Great Yyu, a.k.a. the first king of China. He lives in Massachusetts and enjoys experiencing all kinds of cultures around the world. After obtaining his doctorate in science, he became fascinated with time-travel. As an aspiring writer, he loves to write time-travel fictions that blend fantasy, science, and real history together.

In 2017, he published his debut time-travel novel Dragon Tomb, the first book of his TLR (The Last Resistance) pentalogy. This history science fiction series starts from World War II, during which a young archaeologist discovers the true origin of Chinese civilization and saves the world from Armageddon.





To celebrate DRAGON TOMB by Ricardo Alexanders, we're giving away a $25 Amazon gift card and two autographed paperback copies of the book! Once your initial entry is confirmed, additional entry options are unlocked!



GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to internationally. Three winner will be chosen, one to receive a $25 Amazon gift card, and two to each receive an autographed paperback copy of the book. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Ricardo Alexanders. Giveaway ends 8/17/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted. Winners will be chosen on or about 8/22/2018.


Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Book Blitz: The Gathering by Bernadette Giacomazzo





The Uprising Series tells the story of three freedom fighters and their friends in high — and low — places that come together to overthrow a vainglorious Emperor and his militaristic Cabal to restore the city, and the way of life, they once knew and loved. In The Gathering, Jamie Ryan has defected from the Cabal and has joined his former brothers-in-arms — Basile Perrinault and Kanoa Shinomura — to form a collective known as The Uprising. When an explosion leads to him crossing paths with Evanora Cunningham — a product of Jamie’s past — he discovers that The Uprising is bigger, and more important, than he thought.



With an impressive list of credentials earned over the course of two decades, Bernadette R. Giacomazzo is a multi-hyphenate in the truest sense of the word: an editor, writer, photographer, publicist, and digital marketing specialist who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to thrive in each industry with equal aplomb. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, People, Us Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and many, many more. She served as the news editor of Go! NYC Magazine for nearly a decade, the executive editor of LatinTRENDS Magazine for five years, the eye candy editor of XXL Magazine for two years, and the editor-at-large at iOne/Zona de Sabor for two years. As a publicist, she has worked with the likes of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and his G-Unit record label, rapper Kool G. Rap, and various photographers, artists, and models. As a digital marketing specialist, Bernadette is Google Adwords certified, has an advanced knowledge of SEO, PPC, link-building, and other digital marketing techniques, and has worked for a variety of clients in the legal, medical, and real estate industries.

Based in New York City, Bernadette is the co-author of Swimming with Sharks: A Real World, How-To Guide to Success (and Failure) in the Business of Music (for the 21st Century), and the author of the forthcoming dystopian fiction series, The Uprising. She also contributed a story to the upcoming Beyonce Knowles tribute anthology, The King Bey Bible, which will be available in bookstores nationwide in the summer of 2018.

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