Sunday, August 31, 2014

"How the Water Falls" by K. P. Kollenborn

How the Water Falls
by K. P. Kollenborn

How the Water Falls is currently on tour with Worldwind Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

On the fringes of a civil war arise a kaleidoscope of stories of abuse, power, betrayal, sex, love, and absolution, all united by the failings of a dying government. Set in the backdrop during the last years of South Africa's apartheid, How the Water Falls is a psychological thriller that unfolds the truth and deception of the system’s victims, perpetrators, and unlikely heroes.
The two main characters, one white, Joanne – a reporter, the other black, Lena – a banned activist, have their lives continuously overlap through the people they know during a thirteen-year period and eventually become friends as a result of their interviews together. Joanne personifies the need to question and investigate apartheid’s corruption from a white person’s perspective. Although her intentions begin with idealism, no matter how na├»ve, as the years pass while the system is failing, she crosses the threshold of what it means to be caught up inside the belly of the beast, especially after crossing paths with the Borghost brothers. Lena, who is inspired by her predecessors, such as Steve Biko and Nelson Mandela, is among the minority of black women to peacefully battle for equality, even if her struggle is indicative of sacrificing her health and safety. Hans Borghost is Johannesburg’s commissioner of police who, like all those before, had a military background before pursuing a law enforcement career. Violent, manipulative, and controlling, he incarnates the image of South Africa’s perpetrators. Jared Borghost is the younger brother of Hans and, like his brother, has a military background, but unlike Hans, he internally combats between his sense of duty and morality. His inconsistency indicates a conscience that leaves one to ponder whether Jared is either a perpetrator, victim, or both. As his surname suggests, Bor-GHOST represents the "ghosts" that haunt the family’s past. Many other characters play the roles of spies, freedom fighters, lovers, adversaries, and supporters.
This novel is as complex as apartheid was itself, unlacing fabrics of each character’s life to merge into a catalyst downfall. The question of who will survive this downfall will suffice in the courts of truth and reconciliation and whether love is strong enough to preserve peace.

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The Characters
Meet the main characters of How the Water Falls by K. P. Kollenborn.

Colonel Hans Borghost, a man in his early forties, rested his coffee mug on his desk. His rectangular name tag was displayed prominently, broadcasting his distinction as Commissioner of Police. He bore a hefty gut, a sign of indulgence and importance, as well as silver streaks above his ears. His blazing blue eyes were the dominating feature of the Borghost clan. All three brothers had inherited their father’s strongest physical features which made their mother feel even more inferior, may God rest her restless soul.
Flipping a folder open as he sat down, he coughed while scrutinizing a handful of photos and then carefully read the first page. A Bantu woman by the name of Lena Skosana was brought in yesterday afternoon for not having her passbook in order. It was not long before they found out she was a banned kaffir; her status forbade her to leave Alexandra for five years, but she did anyway, claiming she needed to make an important trip into Jo’burg. She was a repeat offender, having already served time for illegal activity writing blasphemes that condemned their sacred laws. Another militant kaffir who threatened civil concordance. It was an endless campaign with these people. He studied her small photos. Her youth undoubtedly opposed wisdom. Probably someone who hadn’t yet left her twenties, he guessed. Sighing, he presumed her stupidity was chronic, and the only true cure for that was to treat her like a wild horse.
Sipping his coffee, Hans closed the folder and stood up. He peeked at his wrist watch, and proceeded to walk out of his office, down the hall into the interrogation room. Closing the door, still holding his mug, a mixture of sweat and urine lagged in the shallow room. Two other white officers were present: one sitting behind a table, the other standing with a cigarette in his mouth. Both were cross-examining the Bantu woman, who was tied to a chair. Both revealed exhaustion under their eyes; sloppiness through unbuttoned collars and rolled-up sleeves. The officer smoking a cigarette had blood spots on his shirt. He was young with a crew cut and gray eyes.
Hans wasn’t surprised to find the kaffir’s face cut and bruised. One of her eyes was swollen shut. He noticed cigarette burns on her arms and legs. Her clothes were damp and he could smell her urine. Rarely did his men beat on a woman unless she retaliated like a man. Some of these women did. Some of these pagan women were nearly as strong as a man. In that case, it was justifiable. He sipped his coffee while he walked around her. She was moaning and crying.
It had been a long night for all of them. Hans allowed his men to take care of the situation, trusting them enough to perform their jobs with little misunderstanding. They weren’t new to the system and had served their two years in the military. Already primed for war; already experienced. Insurgent bombings were a monthly activity in South Africa, and had been so for two decades. This unconventional war sadly required unconventional tactics. Then he stopped. Hans stared at her skirt crinkled to her thigh. Her undergarment was ripped and discarded by her feet.
Alarmed, he looked at each of his men. “Did either of you take advantage of this prisoner?” he demanded in Afrikaans. The two glanced at each other, but remained silent. Grimacing, Hans continued, “What have I said about this sort of thing? Do what you have to get your point across, but do not gamble your health with these meids! Most often they are infected! How could either of you be so damn careless?
She was a virgin, sir,” the one sitting behind the table replied.
What if she wasn’t?” Hans snapped. “At her age, I’m greatly surprised she still was a bloody virgin.” Shaking his head, he bitterly scolded, “I will not have my precinct run like a brothel! Jisus, man, be professional about interrogating a prisoner!” He glanced at the woman, partially disgusted. Again shaking his head, he grunted just before he slammed the door and ordered, “Clean her up!

Praise for the Book
"How the Water Falls is a sweeping display of triumph over tragedy, no matter how small the victory or arduous the journey." ~ IndieReader
"K. P. Kollenborn’s novel How the Water Falls is a fabulous addition to the vibrant and turbulent history of South Africa." ~ Self-Publishing Review
"[T]his is such a powerful and moving story that I couldn’t put it down and it’s left a haunting impression on me that will stay with me for quite some time." ~ Crystal Crichlow, writer
"Highly recommended not only as an exciting thriller, but as a wonderful illustration of this past and present world-wide issue. And, thank you, K. P. Kollenborn for your outstanding effort to spotlight deceptions and lies in a manner needed to constantly strive to affect change." ~ Book Reader's Haven Blog

Inspiration Behind the Novel

From the Author
Although I've been writing since childhood, I have a BA in history. I love studying history as much as wanting to evoke stories. I like to believe that after decades worth of introspection we have learned to value our lessons, and the best way to recite our lessons are through storytelling. That's why I love history: To learn. To question. To redeem our humanity. Submitting to a moment in time allows us to remember, or to muse even, our society's past. Although writing can educate as well as entertain, yet what makes art incredibly amazing, to that of paintings, photographs, and music, it transposes emotion into another form of humanity, and therefore, it is our humanity which keeps all of us striving for an improved future.
I am fortunate to have been trained by one the top ten writing teachers in the US, the late Leonard Bishop, and author of Dare to be a Great Writer. I owe my love of writing to him. In addition to writing, I draw, paint, create graphic design, and am an amateur photographer.

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"Docked" Series by Rachael Wade

Docked Series
by Rachael Wade

Docked is the first book in Rachael Wade's sensual adult series. Anchored, the second book in the series, will be released shortly. You can find out more about both books below. This book blitz and giveaway is brought to you by Xpresso Book Tours.

For another book by Rachael Wade, please see my blog post on Unearthed.

(Docked Book 1)
by Rachael Wade

It’s not water that paralyzes Anya Banks - it’s the ocean. Tumultuous and powerful, sleek and unpredictable, it’s just like Tanner Christensen, owner of Trident Voyager, the cruise ship she’s been talked into boarding by her vivacious, foodie fanatic best friend and co-worker, Lana. Tanner exudes confidence, and his raw masculinity is hard to resist. But Anya came aboard to work, face her demons, and then get the hell back to dry land.
Until Tanner convinces her to take the plunge.
She quickly dives into a fun, carefree arrangement with him and embraces her goal to be brave, no matter how loudly her shaky knees tell her to abandon ship. For twelve days, Tanner’s all hers. For twelve days, she’s his goddess. Once the cruise is over and the ship docks, she won’t be the same. But being brave always costs something, and this time, it might cost her heart.

I don’t make it far down the hall before a voice approaches me from behind. Not just any voice. A smooth, charming, and very calculating voice. “How are you this evening, Miss Banks?” Tanner asks, coming up on my heels. “You’re looking lovely.”
“As are you, Mr. Christensen. What are you doing around these parts tonight?”
“Just doing my rounds.” He’s cool and indifferent, but when he sizes me up in a sly side glance, he gives himself away. “Please, allow me to escort you to your date.” He steps next to me, meeting my stride, and lowers his arm to my back, guiding me forward.
“I don’t think that’s necessary, Mr. Christensen. Thank you, though.”
“I would hate to see a beautiful woman such as you arrive without a man on your arm.”
“I will have a man on my arm shortly.” I chance a smile as I peek up at him, expecting to find the same, but instead his eyes have darkened, the blue deepening.
“Note I said a man, Miss Banks. Not a boy, a man.” He leans down to speak closely in my ear, nodding politely at some passerby. His hand presses down on my back, the pressure firm and commanding. “Don’t play with me, Anya.”
“Isn’t that what you want? To play?” I bat my eyes innocently, but there’s nothing innocent brewing in my crafty brain tonight. I’ve learned that it’s much too fun to toy with Tanner like this. Now that I know what gets under his skin, I simply can’t deny myself the pleasure of pissing him off. He might own me in bed, but here, on neutral ground, I have full permission to reign supreme. Maybe I was right.
Maybe Lana really has been rubbing off on me.
Smugness radiates from me right now, but the truth is, now that Tanner’s hands are on me, all I really want is to be his. I would gladly let him whisk me away into a utility closet somewhere if it meant the chance to submit to his dominating ways. They really have become addictive, and I’m afraid my body will go through some sort of withdrawal once our little arrangement is over. I wonder if a rehab exists somewhere for Tanner Christensen’s ex-playthings. I wonder if such a hell exists.
 “Just for that, Miss Banks, you’ll be on your knees this evening,” he whispers darkly, sending shivers down my neck.
I smile sweetly. “I won’t be seeing you this evening, Mr. Christensen. I have a date, remember?”
“Oh, you’ll be seeing me.” He laughs lightly, so damned amused with himself. “You’ll come running when your date with Junior is over. And your mouth will water.”
“I hope your hand is free tonight,” I quip, turning so my lips brush the edge of his jaw. “Otherwise you might be awfully lonely.”
He groans and gives me a sharp tug, diverting me to the left, around the first corner at the end of the hall. “You’re going to be late.”
“What? Tanner, no! My dress!” He slips a key card from his pocket and moves me toward a door on the right, and I realize my dreams have just come true. Tanner Christensen, in the flesh, is shoving me inside a utility closet. I’m inwardly cheering him on, but I don’t dare verbalize it for the man. No way am I giving him the satisfaction he’s craving.

Featured Review
Oh. My. WOW! Where do I even start?! Rachael Wade's books are like crack, and Docked is no exception. It's lighter, a little less angsty than some of her other books. But don't worry - for those of you that need your angst and drama, there is a deeper level of this lighter, sexy read.
Speaking of sexy ... I have just two words: Tanner Christensen.
This man is hot, hot, HOT! He's dominating, but caring. Full of himself, but attentive to Anya's needs (aaaaall of them). Aggressive, but gentle when it counts. He's sinfully sexy, but definitely a mess.
Just in case you're wondering (because I KNOW you are), YES! The scenes are beyond steamy! I am a hot mess, waiting for more Tanner, anxiously anticipating Anchored, book 2 of the series.
Oh, and yes! Be forewarned! Docked does end in one heckuva cliffy. It's definitely making me wish I had book 2 in my hands, like RIGHT NOW! But I promise, you won't regret reading Anya and Tanner's story.

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(Docked Book 2)
by Rachael Wade

Tanner and Anya’s story continues…
Choosing to put aside her reservations about spending more time with Tanner Christensen, Anya said to hell with her instinct and agreed to another cruise. She agreed to take the risk. But now she’s stuck.
Stuck on Trident Voyager.
Stuck with Tanner Christensen, and the woman hell bent on making her pay.
What was supposed to be a fun, careless fling turned out to be something else entirely. Something she wasn’t prepared for and something she certainly can’t take back. The damage is done, and this time, Lana and Brie aren’t by her side to help her weather the storm. There are no escape routes, only ship decks, miles of white sand, and one very self-assured, dominant cruise ship owner determined to get her attention and set things straight.
Lana might still be her partner in crime, but it’s Anya who must fight for - and protect - her heart when all is said and done.

My body sags as he crashes against me and we collapse, falling face forward onto the cool sheets.
“Tanner,” I mumble into the comforter.
He grunts.
“I can’t breathe,” I laugh. My hair’s in my mouth, choking me. “Move, Mr. Christensen.”
“Don’t want to.”
He grunts again and rolls onto his side, pulling me against him in a spooning position. “Feel good, baby?”
“No,” I pant. “No bueno.”
“You sounded satisfied to me, Miss Banks.”
“Not good. Chocolate is good. Massages are good. The beach is good.”
He chuckles deeply and adjusts my hair, brushing it from my neck to drop a kiss beneath my ear. “If you have a better adjective to describe what just happened, I’d love to hear it.”
“Boom,” I sigh. “Just…boom.”
“Oh, yeah.”
“Wait. Isn’t that a…verb, or something?”
“It can be used as an adjective. In this case, it’s definitely an adjective.”

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About the Author
Rachael Wade writes edgy New Adult and Adult romance and science fiction. She is the author of the Amazon bestselling Preservation series, The Replacement, and Love and Relativity, as well as the paranormal romance series, the Resistance Trilogy. When she's not writing, she's busy learning French, watching too many movies, and learning how to protect animals and the environment. She's an avid Brandi Carlile fan and loves all things Tim Burton.

Author Links

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

"Gypsy" by Trisha Leigh

(The Cavy Files Book 1)
by Trisha Leigh

Gypsy is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Inconsequential: not important or significant.
Synonyms: insignificant, unimportant, nonessential, irrelevant.
In the world of genetic mutation, Gypsy’s talent of knowing a person’s age of death is considered a failure. Her peers, the other Cavies, have powers that range from curdling a blood still in the vein to being able to overhear a conversation taking place three miles away, but when they’re taken from the sanctuary where they grew up and forced into the real world, Gypsy, with her all-but-invisible gift, is the one with the advantage.
The only one who’s safe, if the world finds out what they can do.
When the Cavies are attacked and inoculated with an unidentified virus, that illusion is shattered. Whatever was attached to the virus causes their abilities to change. Grow. In some cases, to escape their control.
Gypsy dreamed of normal high school, normal friends, a normal life, for years. Instead, the Cavies are sucked under a sea of government intrigue, weaponized genetic mutation, and crushing secrets that will reframe everything they’ve ever been told about how their "talents" came to be in the first place.
When they find out one of their own has been appropriated by the government, mistreated, and forced to run dangerous missions, their desire for information becomes a pressing need. With only a series of guesses about their origins, the path to the truth becomes quickly littered with friends, enemies, and in the end, the Cavies' ability to trust anyone at all.

The library is one of the bigger rooms in the house, converted from what used to be the upstairs parlor. The Professor looks out a window that overlooks the back lawn. Shelves, sagging with dusty books, cover every inch of the light blue, fifteen-foot walls. The morning sunlight still lingers around the front of the house, making this space dim, but motes of dust twirl and waltz like members of a royal court on the pale, reaching beams.
All at once, happiness floods my bloodstream, as though someone smacks good cheer into my chest cavity through my shoulder blades. The strange desire to burst into song hums along my nerve endings, as though I’m a Disney princess summoning her bird and varmint attendants at the window. It takes serious concentration to bite back the urge.
The abrupt change in mood announces another Cavy’s presence, but as hard as I try to glare at Pollyanna, my mouth refuses to cooperate. Her mutation, a reverse empath alternation that allows her disposition to affect the moods of people in close proximity, is more…invasive than most. Losing control of my own mind never fails to make me feel icky.
And given her insistence on cynicism and anger, she’s not aptly named. Not at all.
“Feeling good, Gyspy?” She shakes out her long, blond hair and pins me with china-blue eyes. The faux-happy shroud crawling from her to me dissolves and my smile finally falls away. Polly nods. “That’s better. You look weird when you smile.”
“Pollyanna, we have spoken at length about the perils of using your gifts on your fellow Cavies.” The Professor’s patient, tired voice reprimands the youngest of his students, if only by several months.
The Philosopher, who runs Darley, took us in before we were three months old, and we all arrived between sixteen and seventeen years ago.
“Sorry, sir.”
She’s not sorry, but his chastisement and her apology are part of our daily routine. Of all the kids here, Pollyanna is my least favorite. She’s everyone’s least favorite, and even though she knows it she doesn’t change. I guess she doesn’t care.
“Sorry for what? Fucking with people again?” The voice bleeds out of thin air before Haint shimmers into view around it, face first. She leans against one of the bookcases once her shoulder appears, examining her nails as she waits for her daily reprimand.
The Professor doesn’t disappoint. “Language, dear.”
He says nothing to me, not even hello, nor does he issue a warning to Haint about using her ability to go invisible. It’s not dangerous. Pollyanna could make any one of us walk straight off a cliff if she felt particularly suicidal that day.
The twins Athena and Goose arrive together, a tornado of rough-housing elbows and flashes of reddish hair, loosing half a shelf of books onto the floor and toppling an end table before getting themselves under control. The Professor ignores them, having long ago resigned himself to their antics.
We’re all here now, at least those who are expected. Mole is still enduring his weekly brain prodding and so is Reaper. They’re our lethal Cavies, and are kept for testing more often and for longer than the rest of us. We’re categorized according to our level of usefulness, the details of our mutations and abilities listed in records the Philosopher hopes might convince the government we could be potential assets as opposed to threats.
Three Operationals, two Substantials, one Developmental, three Unstables, and one Inconsequential. That’s me. The one who will never be an asset to anyone but can’t be locked away and forgotten like an Unstable, either. They don’t know what to do with me, so I shuffle along with the group.
“Everyone sit down, please.”
The Professor’s command sounds more like a genteel request, and we drop into a circle of cross-legged teenagers on the oval Oriental rug that smothers the center of the room. He paces behind us, passing binder-clipped pages into our waiting hands.
I grab mine, excited as the title filters through my eyes and into my brain. It’s a thesis, written by the Scientist back in the 1960s: Genetic Mutation and the Human Brain.
He died before any of us were born but his thoughts and experiments, his studies, help the scientists at Darley Hall figure out what might have caused the mutations that resulted in our “gifts.” Maybe one day they’ll figure out how to switch off those screwy genes and I can touch another person without at least one layer in between us. Without the protection, touching someone means seeing a number in my mind.
The age the other person is going to die.
My “talent” is creepy at best, totally useless at worst, and being able to get rid of it has been a hidden desire for the whole of my life.

Praise for the Book
"A perfect mix of the familiar and the extraordinary, Gypsy is a stunning first in a series that promises to fill a glaring gap in the world of YA Sci-Fi. If you're looking for an unreliable, yet curious and perceptive, narrator, tight bonds between well-developed characters, and compelling mystery with a healthy dose of romance, this is the book for you. Gypsy is my favorite YA Sci-Fi of 2014!" ~ Leigh Ann Kopans, author of SCBWI Spark Award Winner One
"Smart, suspenseful, and full of amazing science, I fell in love with Gypsy from the first page. The constant threat of danger, the hint of romance, and the mysterious backdrop of Charleston hit all the right notes. I devoured this book, desperate to uncover the secrets behind the Cavies and their strange abilities. Gypsy is the kind of YA Sci-fi I love, with believable characters, fantastic relationships, and a plot that kept me turning the pages well into the night. Trisha Leigh has written one of my favorite books of 2014 and I can't wait to see what happens to Gypsy and the other Cavies next!" ~ Jamie Grey, author of Ultraviolet Catastrophe

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
The Cavies are a group of ten sixteen- to seventeen-year-olds with genetic anomalies that give each of them a special power, such as invisibility, super-hearing, telekinesis, or the ability to teleport. The Cavies live in the slave quarters of Darley, an old plantation home in South Carolina, under the care of the Professor, the Philosopher, and the Philanthropist, who are supposedly seeking ways to control the mutant genes.
The Cavies are each named according to their power and are categorized according to their level of usefulness. Gypsy's power is considered Inconsequential; just by touching someone, she can see the age at which they will die, and she is so named because of this ability to somewhat see into the future. Gypsy dreams of living in the real world, but what will happen when the Cavies are finally "rescued", and her wish actually comes true? While she may go unnoticed in the normal world, what about her fellow Cavies, including the Unstables and those with lethal powers?
How will Gypsy cope when she is separated from her lifelong friends, given the new name of "Norah", and thrust into the unfamiliar world of a real father, high school, and cute boys? What happens when she falls for the guy she knows will die when he's eighteen? When the Cavies find out that one of their own is in trouble, will they be able to help her? How is it that the Cavies were all born and given up in the same place? Are their genetic mutations really an accident of nature? Are they all part of some giant government conspiracy? And just what is the true meaning of "Cavy"?
The author switches between using the Cavies' old and new names, a habit which I found annoying and confusing. The writing also suffers from the overuse of (usually bad) similes and metaphors; I found it hard to tell if this was a quirk of Gypsy as the narrator, or if it was simply poor style. Be warned, the book ends on a cliffhanger and leaves many of the above questions unanswered. On the plus side, the story is interesting (if somewhat reminiscent of the television show Heroes), and I look forward to finding out what happens in the rest of this series.

About the Author
Trisha Leigh is a product of the Midwest, which means it’s pop, not soda, garage sales, not tag sales, and you guys as opposed to y’all. Most of the time. She’s been writing seriously for five years now, and has published four young adult novels and four new adult novels (under her pen name Lyla Payne). Her favorite things, in no particular order, include: reading, Game of Thrones, Hershey’s kisses, reading, her dogs (Yoda and Jilly), summer, movies, reading, Jude Law, coffee, and rewatching WB series from the 90’s-00’s.
Her family is made up of farmers and/or almost rock stars from Iowa, people who numerous, loud, full of love, and the kind of people that make the world better. Trisha tries her best to honor them, and the lessons they’ve taught, through characters and stories - made up, of course, but true enough in their way.

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