Thursday, May 30, 2019

Twists of Time Review Tour

Alex once walked away from a rare ability to warp time, thinking it was only a young man’s trick to play basketball better. Now, as a father and teacher, he needs to relearn the skill before the past begins to destroy his own future. To protect his daughter and his most promising student, he must stop the school at which he teaches from turning the clock back to an era of intolerance. He wants desperately to use his unique gifts to help an old high school friend solve an ancient Maya mystery offering a rare chance to bridge the past and the future. Both are possible, but only if Alex can learn to control his temporal talents before he runs out of time.

Alex and Xuha continued their tennis workouts into the summer, with Xuha growing stronger each week, as his left-handed playing improved. After two and a half months, he felt confident enough to try his right hand.

"I think I'll always practice left-handed, too. It could be an asset, giving my right arm a rest or even using my left to throw off an opponent."

Alex agreed. "I'd focus on serving with both hands. That's where you'll get the most impact." The two of them worked on serves, until the June sun rose high enough for the summer heat to take over the morning.

"That day you got attacked. You still have no idea who they were or why they picked you?" Alex wondered aloud as they both gulped water and gathered up their gear.

Xuha shook his head. "I mean, I can guess. It's pretty obvious around school who'd be inclined to do that. But they didn't say anything to me and no one has threatened me since"

"Given the way you fought the first two attackers off, I'd guess you've been in a fight or two. I have to admit, I had no idea you could move that fast, and I coach you."

Xuha grinned. "I don't like to fight, but I can if I have to. I know this will sound odd, but if it's a situation where I really have to make my body do something, it's like everything slows down for me, so I can do it. Does that make any sense?"

Alex felt his own heart loose a beat.

"I tried to tell this to a boy I played soccer with. He was like scary good and was trying to give me tips and stuff, and I was afraid he'd think I was crazy, you know?" Xuha made a crazy face. By now Alex had gotten used to the boy's odd facial humor and he ignored it.

"But this soccer player didn't think I was crazy. He said that's exactly what happened to him sometimes on the soccer field."

Now Xuha really had Alex's attention.

"He told me he wished he could control it, like make a kiss with a pretty girl last longer, but it didn't work that way. It happened when it needed to. He thought maybe all great athletes could do this when they played, even if they didn't realize they were doing it."

"That's interesting. Do you think maybe some people become good at a sport because they can do that? Or maybe they get good first and the technique follows?"

Xuha shrugged. "I've heard people describe something like it during a car crash, too. You said you used to be a good basketball player, Mr. Z? Did you ever have this happen to you?"

"Yeah. I think I know what it is you're talking about."

"Okay. So, that's what happened to me during the fight you saw. Like I didn't ask for it or anything, but these guys started moving slower, you know, slower to me and it made it easier to defend myself."

"I wish it could have protected you from the idiot behind you who you couldn't see."

"Me too. For that kind of protection, I have to go to my alternate plan."

"What's that?"

"Stay out of fights."

My Review:
4 stars

Since I’ve reviewed numerous books in this series, I’m going to recap the thoughts from my previous reviews that still apply for book 3 of the series in addition to my thoughts on this individual book.

To start, research, research, research. The author puts an incredible amount of research into her books. I learn something new in every book, whether it be regarding quantum physics or ancient Mayan history. Seeing these real-life elements help ground the story’s more fantastical elements, and creates a nice balance while reading.

Pacing is still a problem. There’s a lot going on, including numerous time jumps, which made it hard to focus at times. However, from reading the earlier versions of some of these books, the pacing has improved, and honestly, once you get used to S.R.’s writing style, you can forgive some of the pacing issues because you’re drawn into the story. However, it’s still annoying, and something to be aware of if you’re going to get into this series.

The characters are enjoyable and interesting. I liked getting to learn more about old characters from the previous books I’d read while meeting some wonderful new ones (or kinda new…time travel).

Finally, the plot. This time around, S.R. tackled the hard-hitting issues of racism and immigration as part of the characters’ struggles. The way this was handled, while a bit heavy-handed and preachy at times, was still enjoyable, and I kept cheering Xuha on the entire time, as I loved how he handled both. In addition, the Mayan treasure hunt brought in some action and mystery to the sci-fi mix, which is always fun.

All in all, I’m still enjoying this series, and recommend it to anyone looking for a fun sci-fi/fantasy adventure.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

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Author Bio and Links:
Sherrie Roth grew up in Western Kansas thinking there was no place in the universe more fascinating than outer space. After her mother vetoed astronaut as a career ambition, she went on to study journalism and physics in hopes of becoming a science writer.

She published her first science fiction short story long ago, and then waited a lot of tables while she looked for inspiration for the next story. When it finally came,  it declared to her it had to be a whole book, nothing less. One night, while digesting this disturbing piece of news, she drank way too many shots of ouzo with her boyfriend. She woke up thirty-one years later demanding to know what was going on.

The boyfriend, who she had apparently long since married, asked her to calm down and explained how, in a fit of practicality, she had gone back to school and gotten a degree in geophysics and spent the last 28 years interpreting seismic data in the oil industry. The good news, according to Mr. Cronin, was that she had found it to be entertaining and ridiculously well-paying. The bad news was the two of them had still managed to spend almost all of the money.

She was now Mrs. Cronin, and further good news was that they had produced three wonderful children whom they loved, even though, to be honest, that was where a lot of the money had gone. Even better news was that Mr. Cronin turned out to be a warm-hearted, encouraging sort who was happy to see her awake and ready to write. "It's about time," were his exact words.

Sherrie Cronin discovered that over the ensuing decades Sally Ride had already managed to become the first woman in space and apparently had done a fine job of it. No one, however, had written the book that had been in Sherrie's head for decades. The only problem was, the book informed her it had now grown into a six book collection. Sherrie decided she better start writing it before it got any longer. She's been wide awake ever since, and writing away.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Empty Handed Review Tour

One dark night artist Craig Saxton went missing from his village.  His body was found thirty-two hours later in the river, floating like a bobber on a fishing line. Rumors swell like tidal waves: did his ex-wife or his fiancée’s father kill this likeable young man? Or was it simply a case of jealousy by the village’s other artist? Now, two years later, Craig’s fiancée hopes ex-police detective Michael McLaren can find out. From speaking to villagers, McLaren quickly realizes that what appears to be a straightforward investigation is fast becoming as tangled as fishing lines. Are the fish poaching incidents, the reappearance of the local ghost, and assaults on him merely to muddy the investigative waters, or are they connected to Craig’s death? McLaren has his hands full. They become even fuller when a nemesis from his past appears one night, bent on revenge. And the inevitable struggle opens a new future for one man…and leaves the other empty handed.

He was a dozen yards or so from the fishing cottage, heading back to the bridge, when a branch snapped. McLaren halted, shining his light in the direction of the sound. He hesitated, wondering if an animal had stepped on the dry wood, but some sense told him an animal would have to be very large to accomplish that. He shielded the light from his eyes. “Anyone there? Do you need help?”

Silence greeted him.

He waited another few seconds, then continued on.

A loud thud froze him mid-stride and he turned toward the river. “Hello? Are you injured?”

This time a voice answered. It was downstream, closer to the bridge. “Not I, Mate, but you will be.”

McLaren held his torch out, moving the light over the area. “Sorry?”

“What are you, hard of hearing, McLaren?”

The voice was low, barely audible above the splashing river, yet McLaren had no trouble hearing it. Neither did he mistake the edge to the words. Or the speaker. Charlie Harvester.

McLaren’s heartbeat pounded in his throat. The man was standing in the dark wood, no torchlight illuminating his path. The conclusion was obvious. McLaren took a step forward, lowering the light. “Harvester. What do you want?”

A laugh answered him. “Good evening to you, too. I’m more convivial than you…which is just another example of your inferiority. But you asked what I want. All right, I’ll get to the crux of the matter. I want you dead.”

4 stars

This book is 10th in the series, and my second McLaren mystery. As with the 9th book, it works as a standalone, though there are slight references to previous books. However, it doesn’t affect the story.

I enjoyed returning to the world of Michael McLaren, who’s fast becoming one of my favorite detectives. Fresh off his latest success, he’s on to a new challenging mystery, one that hits a little close to home when a nemesis appears. Compared to Photo Shoot (book 9), this was even more of a wild ride. The twists and turns were constant, and the interplay between Michael and his nemesis kept me on the edge of my seat.

In addition, I have to mention the author’s descriptive writing style, which I love. Her writing brings everything in Michael’s world alive, down to the little details of a tiny pub, which enhances the story. All in all, if you’re looking for a good mystery with plenty of intrigue, I recommend giving this series a try.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

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Author Bio and Links:
A month-long trip to England during her college years introduced Jo to the joys of Things British.  Since then, she has been lured back nearly a dozen times, and lived there during her professional folk singing stint.  This intimate knowledge of Britain forms the backbone of both the Peak District mysteries and the McLaren cold case mystery series.

Jo’s insistence for accuracy, from police methods and location layout to the general feel of the area, has driven her innumerable times to Derbyshire for research.  These explorations and conferences with police friends provide the detail filling the books.

In 1999 Jo returned to Webster University to major in English.  She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors.

Her cat Tennyson shares her St. Louis home.

Til Death Do Us Part Book Blast

Quinn McGuire is settling into her new life just fine. She's moving beyond the trauma of her past. She's fallen in love with her best friend, Jack Lassiter, and slowly rebuilding the career she'd once abandoned. Then her old nemesis is arrested for murdering her husband. To the surprise of everyone, Glenda Penderherst wants Quinn to represent her as legal counsel. Quinn doesn't do criminal defense anymore. Nope, she's focusing on areas a little more refined - less drama.

Naomi Banker, the resident vibrational therapist, asks Quinn to look into an intellectual property rights claim. The request seems innocent enough - but boring. Things soon spice up when Quinn discovers that Naomi was romantically linked to Glenda's murdered husband. Soon, more bodies start to surface and like it or not, Quinn finds herself caught in a whirlwind of broken hearts and private alliances, all while trying to manage a few special secrets of her own. She’s convinced of Naomi's innocence and starts to dig for answers. But if she's not careful, she'll end up being added to the body count.

“That went well,” I teased. Jack and I stood on the front lawn of his mother’s home. He rocked back and forth on his heels, a sheepish grin brightening his tan face. The tension that had hardened his shoulders earlier was gone.

“I don’t regret holding back our news,” he said, “but I understand their disappointment.” Taking the edge of my jacket and drawing me closer, he confessed, “Call it selfish, but I liked having you all to myself for a while. Now that Emma knows we’re official, she’s going to drag you from one end of Kentucky to the next. When the baby comes it’s going to be impossible to keep those two ladies back.”

“I know, but we’ve been planning to have this conversation for weeks, even before we found out about the baby.”

“Do you wish we’d done things differently?” He lowered his head to gaze deeper into my eyes. “That you’d had the pretty gown? Family and friends.”

“Absolutely not. I can’t imagine a more magical moment than our wedding day and I wouldn’t have wanted anything different.”

While his mother and T-Lynn were overjoyed to hear our good news, their delight had turned to irritation. We’d left them out of one of the most significant moments of our lives. Not only had we gotten married without them, we’d been living with the secret for months.

Emma had planned her son’s wedding since birth, expecting him to marry at the house and fill their massive lawn with tents for hundreds of guests. She wanted to plan engagement parties and bridal teas. She wanted to shut down the hussies at the country club when she sat me beside her and she wanted to see their salty faces when they realized her Jack wouldn’t be marrying any of their daughters.

Jack rubbed his derriere where T-Lynn had given him an old-fashioned slap on the ass. “Vegas, Jack! You took her to Vegas? Of all the places in the world to get married, that’s where you took Quinn?” She’d pressed her fingers to her temples and sighed. “I pray that Elvis wasn’t your officiant and Marilyn Monroe wasn’t a witness.”

The truth was that we were married in the Valley of Fire at sunset. I don’t remember the heat, though Jack says it was sweltering. I don’t remember details like the red sand dunes or the ancient Indian petroglyphs. The only thing I remember with absolute clarity was the way Jack looked at me when we exchanged our vows. I remember feeling a sense of love and yearning for him so strong and full, it felt like my heart would burst. And I remember that when Jack kissed me, after we’d been announced man and wife, the taste of him was so wonderful that it eclipsed anything that had ever given me pleasure before.

I lifted on the tips of my toes when Jack leaned in to kiss me. Just inches from my embrace, he asked, “So, you want to tell me why you were late? And don’t give me that story again about checking on your client’s case.”

“Geez, that’s right.” I’d almost forgotten. “I was with Naomi.”

“The crystal lady?” he asked.


“You taking her case?”

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About the Author: 
K. S. David lives in the Mid-Atlantic with her husband, their three children and a menagerie of pets. New storylines are constantly running through her head. She keeps notebooks tucked in pockets of the car, the nightstand and makes voice recordings just about all day long. She's addicted to true life mysteries and crime shows, both of which marry well with a great romance. Some of her favorite things are long walks, reading in bed, baking and of course, writing her next novel.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Summer Nanny Review Tour

It was the perfect summer job—until it turned into her worst nightmare.

Bridgett is enjoying an idyllic summer as the nanny for Leo, the son of Paul and Emily Cooper—a famous actor and renowned charity founder. Not only is she generously compensated to care for Leo at the couple’s Seattle waterfront estate, she develops a special bond with the little boy. In addition to the financial perks of the job, Bridgett has fallen into a summer love affair with Chris, a landscaper who works at the property.

It’s the Fourth of July. Leo’s parents are holding a major event for their charity at the top of the Space Needle. When a masked intruder breaks into the home and takes Leo hostage, Bridgett will do anything to save the boy’s life. She complies with the burglar’s demands to retrieve a multi-million-dollar heirloom necklace from the home, yet she quickly discovers that he hasn’t come for the necklace at all…

Detectives Blake Stephenson and Tess Richards are celebrating the Fourth at the Cooper’s charity gala where Tess is being honored for her volunteer work. However, their evening is dampened when Tess’s younger brother, Chris, fails to show up for the event. As they leave the event early, hoping to find answers, they learn the security system is down at the Cooper’s mansion…and that Chris isn’t the only one missing from the party.

Get ready for chills and thrills in this Emerald City Thriller Novella!

She bent over to check the floor around the kitchen island when a loud static noise came over the baby monitor. Every muscle in her body stiffened as she stared at the small lit-up screen in her hand. Instead of seeing Leo's small sleeping form, a figure wearing a full black ski mask filled the camera's frame.

Bridgett's hands trembled as the ski-masked intruder cocked his head to the side and took slow, deliberate steps toward the camera. The camera shook and the screen went dark as the intruder pulled it from the wall. Once the camera had been readjusted, the ski-masked face filled the screen.

He held a cell phone in front of his mouth, and a computerized voice came through the monitor.

"You can stop looking for your phone. I have it."

He must’ve been using an app to disguise his voice. Bridgett held down the Talk button on her hand-held monitor. "Please—don't hurt Leo."

The masked figure turned his head toward the boy's crib. "He's fine. At least he will be if you do exactly what I say."

She blinked through her tears and pressed the Talk button again. "I'll do whatever you want. Don't hurt him—please!"

The camera moved away from the ski-masked face and panned to the side. It stopped, focusing on the large blade in the man's gloved hand.

"That is entirely up to you," the computerized voice said.

My Review:
4 stars

This was a fast paced read, full of action, suspense, and a bit of horror. You never knew what was coming next. Also, for such a short book, there was plenty of character development to go along with the twists and turns, which I was pleasantly surprised with.

My only complaint is that I would have liked to see more of the aftermath, as the story felt incomplete. We found out whodunit and why, which was the main point, but everything happened so fast and then the story was over, with a potential cliffhanger as to what would happen next. It felt like the first half of an episode of Law & Order, ending before the courtroom part of the episode where you see the aftermath of the crime.

I would like to see a follow-up sequel, because I feel like these characters have more to tell about this sordid tale, but even if there isn’t one, I would recommend this book if you’re looking for a gripping, pulse-pounding summer read.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

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Author Bio and Links:
Audrey J. Cole is a registered nurse and a writer of thrillers set in Seattle. After living in Australia for the last five years, Audrey has returned to the Pacific Northwest where she resides with her husband and two children.

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The Sparkle King VBT

In 2014, Patrick lost his partner, Pack, suddenly and without warning. As he struggled to come to terms with this, he was faced with homophobic prejudice from his partner's family. In horrendous emotional pain and feeling desperately lonely and depressed, he started to use recreational drugs heavily and hit rock-bottom whilst on a trip to Las Vegas.

After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and getting clean from drugs and alcohol, Patrick thought his fight was over. However, this was not the case. Life had many other obstacles in store for him but this time, he knew how to be strong and he knew he had God on his side for support.

This inspiring and emotive true story shows how anyone can overcome the hurdles life presents them with, if they just have faith and focus on their inner strengths.

I’ve been sober for nearly four years now. It is here that I have stepped into the power of who I really am. I now allow myself to sparkle. It is in this space of love and light that I’ve fallen in love with the man I really am. And that means I protect myself from pain. Yes, it still finds me. Life is life. Life is hard. Pain is an unavoidable byproduct of it. But it is not allowed to ruin me anymore.

Because I now stand firm in the power and strength of my sparkle, I get to work on pain the minute I feel it start to seep into my body. I used to let it hang out, take over and basically encompass me. Now I let it in just enough to feel it. That way I am reminded that I need to heal it, so that I can move on and keep growing in the direction of my dreams. Pain gets in; light comes out.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t get overwhelming. For a few weeks at the end of last year, it seemed like everything was falling apart: a dishonest publicist stole money from me and almost ended my literary career. But the power of my dream and my desire to share the gift of my sparkle overruled his act of sabotage. It just made me work harder.

Enjoy the Silence

The last day my best friend did drugs I found a large feather in the center of my closet.

I didn’t know this–though looking back I did feel it–but he had been using again for about eight months. It was eight months of not showing up, broken promises, lies, manipulation, cutting remarks, inappropriate comments and sometimes violent rage that he directed at me to mask the pain he must have been feeling inside.

It was eight months of abusive behavior that resulted in the greatest pain and heartbreak of my entire life. His behavior toward me broke me in a way that betrayed me. It clawed at me. It ate at me. For a while, the sticky thickness of this low pulled me into an abyss of sadness and loss that matched how I felt five years prior when I found my lover dead on his bathroom floor.

Only this time I was sober through the whole thing. I endured it all. I felt powerless in a way that I never imagined in long-term sobriety.

I’m the Sparkle King. I have proudly declared myself an overweight, gay, bipolar, drug addict widow abuse survivor because I made the decision to own my flaws so that no one could use them against me anymore. I’m supposed to effortlessly conquer things in the same way I easily sashay through life now that I’ve found my sparkle.

But this pain hung on like an uninvited guest–a dark passenger that hovered and stayed and gnawed and broke and ruined. I couldn’t shake it. It lingered. It pulled. It kicked. It took. It stayed. It took more.

It wasn’t always like this with my friend. For a long time, it was the greatest relationship I had ever had with a man. A straight man, he had always accepted me in a way that made me feel safe and sound. He made me feel seen. Loved. Heard. Understood. Human. The relationship had always been easy, effortless, fun, and joyful–even whimsical. In it he had given back years of bullying and abuse by just being present, nurturing and loving.

I know I never loved anyone more for this healing. Drugs ruin everything.

This gift of friendship–of brotherhood–that I cherished more than anything in the world had become strained, difficult, wretched, mean, cruel and distant. Even worse, whenever I questioned anything or asked why he acted the way he did, he pointed the finger back at me. He said I was acting bipolar. He asked me if I was off my meds. He called me crazy. He said I over-dramatize things. He also attacked my sexuality and made insinuations about my sadness and confusion because I was gay. He told others these things too. Our friends. He took everything that made me feel seen, heard and understood and made it ugly and sinister. This behavior made me feel like everything I believed in and loved was a lie.

Despite this, or maybe because of all this, I upped the ante on my side, offering to do more and more to placate him and keep him happy. It was a lot; and this is how all of his stuff ended up in my closet the last day he did drugs. I had let him put it there because he had nowhere else to put it when he moved back in to a halfway house. 

For several weeks after his relapse admission, every time we interacted, we ended up screaming at each other. The relationship that I loved more than anything was severing, maybe even severed. Several people in our lives had suggested we take a break from each other, so I initiated that. That’s when the pain I described before set in and almost smothered me.

A few weeks in to this break, we were forced to see each other at an event we were co-chairing. Our relationship had begun because I had given him his first service commitment in our shared 12 step program and he had said he had a spiritual experience as a result. He was grateful for me. But on this day, his cold, ungrateful, demanding behavior and blatant disrespect toward me hurt so much I walked away from the event in the middle of it. He had finally taken away the very thing that had cemented our bond in the first place by insinuating I didn’t know how to do the very service work that had initiated our friendship. This time, instead of fighting, I said nothing. I walked away in silence. I have stayed that way since.

When we make space for silence, we give God room to help us find peace, renewal, self-love, clarity gratitude, grace, guidance and forgiveness. Silence is where the great work happens. It’s a resting space to make the flower bloom more beautifully.

And in the silence, I remembered the feather I found in my closet that day and took back my power.

I asked him to get his stuff out of my closet. I had a mutual friend take him there and help him while I was in school so that I could honor my decision to choose silence. When I got home from school, I walked in my bedroom and marveled at my empty closet. With a single decisive move that honored myself, I felt myself stepping into my sparkle again. I realized that I was powerless over this situation and that it was time to let go. Cleaning out my closet was an act of cleansing, a purification that led to my healing, allowing myself to grieve without the pain of uncertainty. I felt peace for the first time in months. And I realized something that helped me move toward acceptance: The heart wants what it wants, but if it keeps driving you toward someone who constantly hurts you, you need to do the work and break it yourself before they break you.

Standing in my now empty closet, I found a pair of sparkly shoes I had bought almost two years prior. I had always been saving them for a special occasion like Oprah or something.

As these beautiful shoes glimmered in the stillness of my empty closet, I made the decision that I was the special occasion I had been saving these shoes for. I was Oprah. I can be anything I want to be because I love myself. These shoes remind me who I really am: bright, beautiful, resilient, amazing, magnificent, special, joyful and exciting and fun. 

I put the new (old) shoes and made the decision to walk out of this darkness that knocked me off my game for a minute. I decided to walk toward peace, renewal, self-love, clarity gratitude, grace, guidance and forgiveness. I decided to enjoy - and embrace - the silence.

I’m still not talking to my best friend, though he remains in my prayers. I know his behavior was because of drugs; and I know that’s not who he really is.  I also know that what was the most beautiful thing I ever experienced in my life was true in that moment and that it may not be in this moment, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t. I can accept that, let go and move toward a new beginning that might be even more beautiful. It might even be with him again. Or not.

In this new power, I will bask and dance in the joy and even gratitude I found as a result of surviving yet another storm; and I will sparkle brighter than I ever have before. 

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Author Bio and Links:
Patrick A. Roland is a gay, bipolar, ex-drug addict, widowed abuse survivor and the author of three great books. His first, Unpacked Sparkle: a Story of Grief and Recovery, kicks off his journey of sobriety and self-love following the death of his partner, Pack, in January 2014. This book was published by Az Publishing and is available on Amazon.

His second book is a children’s book called Sparkle On! This book is about a gecko who is constantly constant bullied but chooses to fight this with love.

His new book, The Sparkle King, keeps the sparkle flowing as Patrick finds his way through several fear-inducing experiences by constantly choosing faith to overcome them in long-term sobriety.

Patrick lives in Phoenix, AZ. He is a peer support at a mental health clinic, where he helps others just like himself. He’s also earning a Master’s in Addiction Counselling at Grand Canyon University and is taking care of his elderly, terminally ill parents. He wants you to know you can do anything you decide to do if you love yourself. 

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Websites: Patrick A Roland Author    |    Unpacked Sparkle

Monday, May 27, 2019

The American Crusade NBtM

A power-hungry vice president, a bad batch of shady intelligence, and a sinister plot to destroy Western civilization.

Just another day in America.

On May 1, 2001, a group of radical Islamic terrorists crash a Boeing 737 jet airliner into the Mall of America—and Vice President Robert Hornsby knows his moment is coming.

The attack kills three thousand American citizens and throws an entire nation into a panic, but all Hornsby sees is an opportunity, a chance to imprint his fanatical values on the soul of the country he loves and become the most powerful vice president in American history.

With the aid of his affable but ineffectual president; the reluctant, conscience-stricken secretary of defense; and a preening, foppish faith leader with more than a few skeletons in his closet; Hornsby declares war on terror—and anyone who stands in his way. But as media scrutiny of the administration’s actions overseas intensifies, Hornby’s one-man campaign against evil begins to unravel—with striking parallels to the thirteenth century’s doomed Fourth Crusade—and sends the nation spiraling toward another deadly tragedy.

The American Crusade paints a grim and often cynical picture of America’s recent past, reflecting the attitudes, politics, and fears that shaped our nation in the new millennium. By sampling the contemporaneous French text on the Fourth Crusade, On the Conquest of Constantinople, author Mark Spivak reminds us of that ever-vital adage: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Fans of The Castle by Jack Pinter, The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson, House of Cards by Michael Dobbs, The Whistler by John Grisham, and the Aaron Sorkin–penned TV drama The West Wing will love this book.

To President George Cane, the assembled group represented “the full force and moral authority of the United States of America.”

To the Reverend Sanford J. Bayer, head of the White House Office of Faith and Reconciliation (known internally as the Woofers), they symbolized “the lawful arm of God’s righteous Kingdom … preparing to strike at the heart of our enemy.”

To Salman Al-Akbar, leader of the worldwide terrorist organization Husam al Din and the reason the dignitaries were gathered at this press conference, they were “the cancerous core of modern civilization, bleeding like an ulcer that must be removed.”

They included the heads of both houses of Congress, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Directors of the FBI and CIA, most of the Cabinet, and the Chief Justice of the United States.

And to the Vice President, who had assembled this improbable group, they were the usual suspects.


If you spend any time at all on social media, you know that politics is the subject of the moment. For better or worse, the current climate is super-heated and divisive. The silver lining is that more people are interested in the working of government and are expressing their opinions.

During the 15 years I spent in Washington, D.C., I became a political junkie simply by breathing the air. I weaved much of that fascination into my new political thriller, The American Crusade.

The year is 2001. George Cane, the affable and ineffective nephew of former President Herbert Cane, is in the White House. The power behind the throne is Robert Barton Hornsby, vice president and former CIA director—a man once characterized by The New Yorker as “the spy who refused to come in from the cold.” Hornsby was initially selected to run as vice president on the Cane ticket to provide legitimacy and guidance to the young governor.

On May 1, a group of terrorists hijack a jetliner and fly it into the Mall of America. Later that day, no fewer than six suicide attacks are carried out around the country, bringing the death toll to 3,000. America is at war with an amorphous and unknown enemy. Robert Hornsby seizes control of the U.S. government, and will not let go.

In the novel, the Middle East was carved up after World War II into three super-states: Kabulistan, Sumeristan and Persepostan. Initial intelligence reports link the terrorists to the Kabulistan border, where they are operating in the mountains with assistance from local warlords. President Cane announces that the U.S. will invade Kabulistan, topple the government and destroy the terrorist network. Suddenly and inexplicably, however, he changes his mind and informs the country that the dictator of Sumeristan, Hussein Ghazi, is the true culprit.

Both the Democratic Congress and the media are skeptical of this about-face, since they feel that Cane is trying to vindicate his uncle, who also invaded Sumeristan but failed to get a successful long-term outcome. Their objections are drowned out by the wave of patriotism that follows the attacks, and the invasion goes forward. During the U.S. occupation that follows, the situation begins to unravel, and the country spirals downward toward a massive foreign policy failure.

The modern story of the Sumeristan invasion is interspersed with excerpts from an eyewitness account of the Fourth Crusade. As the story develops, the parallels between the two events become strikingly and eerily similar.

This is not a 9/11 story: It is a meditation on the follies of history. Does history repeat itself, or are we the ones who keep repeating it? Read The American Crusade and form your own conclusions.

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Author Bio and Links:
In the realm of non-fiction, award-winning author Mark Spivak focuses on wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. His first book, Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, was published by Lyons Press in 2012. He followed this with Moonshine Nation (Lyons Press, 2014), hailed as the definitive book on illegal corn whiskey in America. From 1994-1999 he was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post, and was honored for excellence in wine criticism “in a graceful and approachable style.” Since 2001 he has been the Wine & Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, and contributes to a number of national magazines. He is also the holder of the Certificate and Advanced Diplomas from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Mark’s first novel, Friend of the Devil, was published by Black Opal Books in May 2016. Set in Palm Beach in 1990, it tells the story of America’s most famous chef, who has sold his soul to the Devil for fame and fortune. 

Mark also has an endless fascination with the American political system and is an avid follower of Washington politics. His second novel, The American Crusade (a gripping political thriller set during the invasion of Iraq, which dips into the shadowy world of government conspiracy and political sabotage), will be released by TCK Publishing on April 4. He is currently at work on Impeachment, the sequel to The American Crusade.

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