Monday, December 31, 2012

"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather—were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.
A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Book Trailer

The trees parted like a curtain and suddenly there it was, cloaked in fog, looming atop a weed-choked hill. The house. I understood at once why the boys had refused to come.
My grandfather had described it a hundred times, but in his stories, the house was always a bright, happy place - big and rambling, yes but full of light and laughter. What stood before me now was no refuge from monsters, but a monster itself, staring down from its perch with vacant hunger. Trees burst forth from broken windows and skins of scabrous vine gnawed at the walls like antibodies attacking a virus - as if nature itself had waged war against it - but the house seemed unkillable, resolutely upright despite the wrongness of its angles and the jagged teeth of sky visible through sections of collapsed roof.


By Lynda Dickson

This book starts off as an amusing and engaging story told from the point-of-view of a teenage boy, Jacob Portman. It later develops into a fantasy/horror story, so I recommend this book to readers aged 12 and up.

Following the death of his grandfather in unusual circumstances, Jacob sets off to England in an attempt to solve the mystery of his grandfather's dying words. He goes in search of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, where his grandfather was raised until the onset of World War II. The Home is the setting of numerous stories Jacob's grandfather told him as a child, featuring a levitating girl, an invisible boy and a cast of other unusual characters. Are these stories real or a figment of his grandfather's imagination? Whilst Jacob initially believes his grandfather's stories, he begins to lose his faith as he grows older.

Jacob's search leads him to encounter a spooky mansion, a shape-shifter, children with peculiar powers, cannibalistic monsters, creepy photographs, a love story, and a bit of time travel. With all these elements, this book is sure to please young and old alike. 

The book features original vintage photographs collected by the author and his friends. It is a credit to the author's imagination that he came up with this story based on the photographs. Some readers have expressed difficulty in viewing the photographs and hand-written letters in the eBook version. However, I had no difficulty whatsoever using my Nexus 7 tablet.

Whilst this story in itself is complete, the author has left it open to a sequel.

From the Author
I grew up in Florida, went to Kenyon College in Ohio, then film school at USC in LA, where I still live. I write books and screenplays, blog daily for, and make short films.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is my first novel. I'm really excited about it - it was challenging and rewarding and I hope people like it. If you read that and like the found photographs in it, you might be interested in Talking Pictures,a book comprised entirely of found photographs that I published in October 2012.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Devil's Necktie by John Lansing

The Devil's Necktie
by John Lansing

John Lansing's NEW RELEASE is available for only $0.99 for a limited time from Amazon (US residents only) or direct from the publisher, Simon & Schuster.  We are also lucky enough to have two eBooks to give away. Be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY below.

A sizzling thriller for fans of James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell - an exciting tour into the real-life world of cops, crime, drugs, and murder.
Retired inspector Jack Bertolino had strict rules when dealing with confidential informants. But Mia had the kind of beauty that could make a grown man contemplate leaving his wife, his job, and his kids. After a passionate night together, Mia is found murdered - and Jack is the lead suspect.
Facing threats from the LAPD, the 18th Street Angels, and a Colombian drug cartel, Jack delves deeper into the seedy world of drug dealers and murderers and discovers that the top players knew Mia personally. And now Jack is torn between fearing for his life and seeking revenge for his slain lover … either way, the body count will rise.

Book Trailer

Jack Bertolino stood on the balcony of his loft in Marina del Rey, tending a dry-aged New York steak on his prized possession, a top-of-the-line Weber gas grill. He didn’t miss winter, not one little bit. Here he was manning the barbecue in his new uniform, a black T-shirt and jeans, while his cousins were chasing heart attacks shoveling snow off their Staten Island driveways. That image never ceased to put a smile on his face. That and the salty ocean breeze that floated in over the marina.

Jack nursed a glass of cabernet and watched the long line of bright white FedEx trucks return home from their final deliveries and park in neat rows in the lot next to his building. It sure beat the sight of patrol cars jammed onto the sidewalk in front of a precinct house.

Early evening was Jack’s favorite time of day. The sun was just starting to paint the clouds a muted orange. From his fourth-floor vantage point, Jack could see a string of jumbo jets in the distance, silently making their final approach to LAX. Stacked eight planes deep, their slim silver bodies glinted in the setting sun.

For the first time in Jack Bertolino’s life, he felt at ease.

His cell phone chirped, snapping him out of his reverie. He tossed some Japanese eggplant onto the grill, closed the lid, and checked his cell phone screen for the name of the caller.


“How’s my Italian stallion?”

“Mia ... ,” he said instantly, his tone neutral, giving away nothing.

“All the planets are aligned, Jack. It’s time for you to man up and
make an honest woman out of me.”

Jack couldn’t help but smile. Mia’s throaty voice and light Colombian accent had the power to make a grown man weep. More important, it could make a bad man give up his secrets.

He hadn’t really been surprised when he received her text. He knew it was only a matter of time. Payback’s a bitch.

“What can I do for you, Mia?”

“It’s what I can do for you, papi. My lips .. they’re still magic.”

“I love it when you talk dirty.”

“Only for love or money.”

Although Jack was enjoying the back and forth, he was no longer in the business. “Why are you calling, Mia?”

Mia dropped her act as well. “We need to talk.”

“It’s not a good time,” Jack said as he opened the lid of the grill and pressed his fork against the steak, checking for doneness.

“Face-to-face, Jack.”

“I’m not in New York.”

“That’s why I’m in Los Angeles.”

Jack didn’t reply right away. He did a quick analysis of how Mia could know he was living in L.A., what kind of trouble she might be in, what kind of blowback he was going to suffer just from having this conversation. He came to the instantaneous conclusion that however this new wrinkle in his life played out, it would definitely have an impact on his newly found state of bliss.

In the vein of John Patterson and Patricia Cornwell, John Lansing taps into the real-live world of cops, crime, drugs and murder to deliver a sizzling whodunit. Retired inspector Jack Bertolino had strict rules when dealing with confidential informants. He worked in narcotics for 25 years and it was a line in the sand he never crossed. But Mia had the kind of beauty that could make a grown man contemplate leaving his wife, his job, and his kids. After a passionate night together, Mia is found murdered - and Jack is the lead suspect. Facing threats from the LAPD, the 18th Street Angels, and a Colombian drug cartel, Jack Bertolino is forced to pull out all the stops to figure out exactly what Mia had gotten herself into and a way to clear his name. As Jack delves deeper into the world of drug dealers and murderers, he uncovers an international drug ring, and the top players in this game knew Mia personally. It is uncovered that Mia had a loving relationship with the son of a major drug lord, but she was never accepted into the family. Despite this, the relationship bloomed, and Mia became pregnant. Upon hearing this news, someone ordered her pregnancy terminated, forcibly.
Mia had spent the past few years getting revenge on the cartel family, right up until she got found out. It just so happened that she reached out to Jack on the day of her death. And now Jack is seeking revenge on behalf of his slain lover.
The Devil's Necktie will keep readers glued from scene to scene, page after page, alongside Jack Bertolino - delighting in every step of his relentless pursuit to uncover the truth.

About the Author
John Lansing started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre playing the lead in the Broadway production of "Grease." He then landed a co-starring role in George Lucas' "More American Graffiti," and guest-starred on numerous television shows. During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced "Walker Texas Ranger," co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and he also co-executive produced the ABC series "Scoundrels." John's first book was Good Cop Bad Money, a true crime tome with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano. The Devil's Necktie is his first novel. A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles. For further insights read an interview with the author.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Penwinnard Stories by M. A. McRae

The Penwinnard Stories by M. A. McRae

The Penwinnard Stories are projected to be a collection of six books set in a Boys' Home in Cornwall. They are fiction, and while for many of the boys, there is a background of abuse and neglect, this is not what my stories are about. They are about the boys - resilient, tough, sometimes far from docile, doing the best they can with the cards that life has dealt them. Two book s have now been published, Angel No More and You Gotta Have Manners. They are available to download from Smashwords in a number or formats, or in Kindle or paperback from Amazon.
For further insight into this series, read the Penniward backstory on the author's blog.

  Angel No More: A Penwinnard Story
by M. A. McRae

He calls himself Robert Kelly, known as Bob. They call him the mystery boy.
A boy is discovered walking on a country road. He is injured, exhausted, lost and alone. He refuses to tell what happened to him, and the name he gives matches no records. But he tells a story - a story of routine kidnaps, murders, and abuse. It wasn't him, though - he was never there. "Someone" had told him about it. This is the story of Bob, who would never again be called Angel.
Ian Mackender is the manager of Penwinnard Boys' Home. . He knows his boys, he knows the good and bad of them. He understands them better than they understand themselves. But this new one? He doesn't understand Bob.
When the story finally breaks, the ramifications will be felt worldwide.

By Debbie Bennett
Set in a children's home for boys in Cornwall, this is the first book in a series, each book presumably focussing on a different boy. This story is about Bob, once known as Angel, who has spent the past couple of years providing sexual services to wealthy men from all over Europe. Bob escapes and ends up at Penwinnard, where he gradually comes to terms with what’s happened to him. But while Bob tries to make a new life for himself, the French police are closing in and Bob is torn between shutting out his past and trying to save the boys he knows are still out there.
Like the author's other books, this is a story with a huge cast and yet we are never confused or left wondering who is who. Each character is quickly and cleverly outlined with all the quirks and habits of real people living real lives. The focus is on Bob sufficiently to appreciate the appalling situation he's been in, but there's enough of a lighter touch in the other boys to keep the novel buoyant and readable. There's humour as the Penwinnard boys establish their own pecking order and vie with each other to impress potential foster parents. And it all sounds so utterly authentic and believable. Despite the dark subject matter, this is a rich and fulfilling story which will leave you wanting to know more about all of the Penwinnard boys.

Book Links

You Gotta Have Manners: a Penwinnard Story
by M. A. McRae

Ian MacKender liked to boast that Penwinnard Boys' Home was the best facility of its type in all of the UK, and perhaps the world. But whatever he could do, the best he could do, his boys still longed for true family.
Young Sid very much wants a new mum and dad, and is willing to put a great deal of effort into finding one. He is goodlooking enough, "passable", as he is told, but as he says rather too often, "You gotta have manners."

By Debbie Bennett
After reading Angel No More, I was hoping for more of the same – and I wasn't disappointed. Although the focus is slightly more on young Sid, who's desperate for a new adoptive family, there is still plenty of action involving the other boys. We've said goodbye to some characters and we meet a few new ones, but as before this is a fly-on-the-wall account of life in a privately-run boys’ home in Cornwall. And it's beautifully done too, with just the right amount of detail. The author has perfect timing – knowing when to focus in on something specific and when to pull back and give us the wider picture, resulting in a satisfying read. Thoroughly recommended again.

Book Links

About the Author
M. A. McRae is an Australian author.
The Shuki Series:
The first book: Not a Man, was published by Night Publishing in October 2011. In this book, we are introduced to Shuki Bolkiah, eunuch. It covers the years of his life from the age of 10 to the time when he graduates from Oxford University.
The second book is The King's Favourite, published in May 2012. You do not need to have read Not a Man in order to enjoy the second in the series. They are quite separate stories, though still about Shuki, the one who began as a slum boy, and ended as a person to be very much respected, even though not a man. Both of the books of the Shuki series are available as eBooks and as paperbacks. The third book in the series is expected to be released early in 2013, and there is a fourth book in progress.
The Penwinnard Books:
The Penwinnard Books are set in a Boys' Home that is situated in Cornwall, UK. The first two are titled Angel No More and You Gotta Have Manners. There are four more books planned in this series.

Author Links

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Beset: A Desperate Search For Happiness in Times of Crisis by Lee Bullen

Beset: A Desperate Search For Happiness 
in Times of Crisis 
by Lee Bullen

After a turbulent life-altering period, Lee Bullen embarks on a personal journey to find a semblance of happiness and rediscover a love for life, but finds his every goal hampered by the brutal effects of the Great Recession.
Besieged with universal wallops and cosmic coshes, Lee tries to come to terms with his autistic son’s worsening condition while finding himself knee-deep in divorce, unemployment and financial disaster.
He's a man in personal crisis, struggling on an island in economic crisis, during the Global Financial Crisis – not an enviable position! However, despite the multitude of omnipotent foes, he discovers that he himself may in fact be his own worst enemy...
Beset – A humorous, touching and bittersweet account of one man and his state of mind during the early 2010s.

Chapter 1 – Brand New Start

It's 3 o’clock in the morning on January 1st, 2012, and I'm euphorically urinating the last remnants of the previous year into the inviting blackness of the Atlantic Ocean. The balmy evening has thronged past like any memorable New Year's Eve involving an array of soft drugs, a fireworks display and a free, open-air rock concert held on a heaving plaza principal; but for me it has a more profound significance: A clichéd belief that the calendar change, combined with a physical cleansing of all things '2011', would coincidingly invoke a monumental change of fortune...

Okay, maybe I'm reaching. But I've decided I need to grasp at something. The previous year had seen me divorced, made redundant, broke, discourteously dumped by my girlfriend, and embark on a trying course of treatment for my recently-diagnosed autistic son... and that was just October! One week in October. My birthday week, in fact. The rest of the year had been as equally unrelenting. To cap things off, I live on a foreign island with no family or close friends to call upon. I'm a single dad to my two children half the week, and completely at a loss as to who I am the other half.

As I stand on the rocks, shaking dry what has recently become my closest friend, confidant and only dependable source of feelgood therapy, I feel the clouds metaphorically burst and heavens open.'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall'... 'The Times They Are A-Changin' – Dylan knew the score. Or at least his early hits with 'A-(Something)' in the title did, seamlessly parroting my current sensibility. From nowhere, the ocean breeze develops a grandiose sense of being and douses my lower legs in warm piss. “Fuck you, Universe!” I shout, and disturb a few merrymakers also relieving themselves nearby. I inhale patiently. 'Okay. I'm sure that was just a wind cycle from last year,' I rationalise, now wearing the last remnants of 2011 for at least another hour or two.

I'm 38. Some might say that my situation is a 'mid-life crisis', but to me that implies an irrational compulsion by some middle-aged men to splash out on a sporty coupé orgasmically lavished on an episode of Top Gear they'd seen, whilst simultaneously test-driving a pretty young underling from the office. No, my crisis isn't one of 'have I still got it'. I'd lost my hair at 30, and the drawn-look of significant weight loss during a spirit-crushing two year period had aged me, but I wear it well in a weather-beaten kind of way and I'd accepted and embraced it – In my twenties, when sporting a thickly-lacquered comb-back, I was often compared to pretty 90's boy-band types, like 'Bros'. Now I'm compared to baldy action types and receiving more attention than before. Bruce Willis may be a grandfather and nearly 20 years my senior, but it's something I'm willing to put up with after previously being dubbed 'Vanilla Ice'! No, my crisis is one of faith. Not in a religious sense, but of life and the basic belief, will and zest we all need to feel to get us through our day. I've lost my 'mojo', basically, and I can't even remember where I had it last.

Despite the relentless, year on year besiegement of universal wallops and loss of nearly everything, I've never seriously considered suicide as an out. I'm proper battered, and staring the prospect of homelessness square in the eyeball – and with it, access to the only joy left in my world, my two children – but I'd rather live life in limbo as a crazy cave-hermit, mumbling to myself and biting the heads off rats rather than biting the proverbial dust. I don't think it's in me. Still, I am, however, numb. Utterly numb. To utterly everything. Combined with a cannabis dependency Snoop Dogg would be proud of, I am – as Hugh Grant may say in a Richard Curtis gush-fest – utterly, utterly, utterly numb!

I’m living through a profound personal crisis during an interminable financial crisis. There are so many crises going on in my life I'm beginning to feel like the Middle East! My mindset is as conflicted as my need for coffee and cannabis, yo-yoing up and down and double-looping around my subconscious, strangling my very hopes and wishes. Consciously, I continue to pick myself up and follow the path of self-discovery and attracting a love for life, but spiritual growth feels more futile than ever. My two-year plan for harmonious happiness has been beset with problems, both internally and externally. I'm at rock-bottom, intricately spiralling down with the worsening economic and social gloom of the time. I had identified five areas of my life as the nucleus for obtaining joy, but each one continues to deteriorate in relation to every downturn of this unrelenting world recession.

My problems began in 2008, the same time as the Global Financial Crisis, however, unlike many financial institutions around the world, I'm not to be rescued by 'quantitative easing measures', or any other form of legal fraud for that matter. My mistakes and misfortunes aren’t going to be swept under the carpet and never accounted for; rescued by a distracted taxpaying public too full of fear to realise they’re paying the price, not the corrupt and gluttonous 'powers that be' responsible. Prospecting for scant nuggets in a mine of immeasurable shit alongside so many others – that’s my path. And just as I find myself on a small island without work for the fourth time in three years of international recession, I also find that I have no fight left. I'm battle-weary from the umpteenth 'start over'. And who can blame me? A summary of my life over the previous three New Year's Days looks like this:

Jan 2010
Married (albeit, for the last weeks). Father to two beautiful, healthy children (aged 3 and 1½). New job teaching English in a secondary school (after most of 2009 unemployed).
Jan 2011
Separated. Making a new home for me and the kids, who stay with me half the week. Two year old son diagnosed with Autism. Increasingly lonely and alone. Financially strained.
Jan 2012
Divorced. Unemployed. Financially broke. Recently dumped and heartbroken. Weak. Alone. And firmly stuck in the untenable position of juggling all this with the increasing difficulty of coming to terms with my son's worsening condition.

Okay, so 2012 hasn't exactly come with a dream start! However, these are the results of previous years. It's all about what happens next, and all I have is hope that I’ll find something to light a spark in the flooded engine of my soul – because if not, that mumbly cave-hermit thing may become an all too true reality...

By mellove31
The author shares his personal struggles through the rough economic times felt all over the world. While reading, I often felt like I could relate to him, and then I remembered most of the world could relate to him in one way or another. The only thing different he did was open up and share his life with us and tell his story on how he overcame the hardships and changed his outlook on the future. Highly recommend this book.

About the Author
Lee Bullen is a novelist and screenwriter who currently shares a Spanish writing retreat with his two children and an army of cacti. Although he openly admits preferring the company of his kids to any neighboring succulents, he does, however, have a favorite palm tree.
Having been battered and bruised by the indeterminable Global Financial Crisis (2008 till God-knows-when!), Lee finds it hard to write about anything else! His debut novel, Beset: A Desperate Search for Happiness in Times of Crisis was published in September 2012.