B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

The Butcher’s Block

The Butcher's Block
Title: The Butcher's Block
Publisher:
Published: August 1, 2017
During a routine patrol, police arrest two men in possession of human body parts intended for sale to the dissecting rooms of a London teaching hospital. Bow Street Runner and amateur pugilist Dan Foster makes the grisly discovery that they are the remains of fellow officer George Kean. The arrested men are charged with Kean’s murder, but Dan is not convinced that they are the killers. In pursuit of the real murderer, he investigates the unhallowed activities of the resurrection men – bodysnatchers. The bodysnatching racket soon leads Dan to something bigger and much more dangerous. In a treacherous underworld of vicious pugilists, ruthless murderers, British spymasters and French agents, Dan must tread carefully…or meet the same terrible fate as Kean. 'The Butcher’s Block' is the second Dan Foster Mystery. 'Bloodie Bones', the first in the series, was joint winner of the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016.

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Now That We’re Adults

Now That We’re Adults
Title: Now That We’re Adults
Published: September 6, 2016
Author's Twitter: @PlaidCoreLynn
A group of geeky 20-somethings in Scranton, PA, struggle to form post-college identities without alienating each other in the process. When happy-go-lucky Wade is dumped by his longtime girlfriend, he’s left to wonder whether she might have a point about his lack of ambition. Needing a distraction from the heartbreak, he begins programming a video game, which soon becomes a passion project as he strives to prove he can follow through on his own. Meanwhile, his brother Ian barely has time for games now that he’s overloaded at work and struggling to connect with pregnant wife Kat, who’s starting to doubt whether she wants a baby at all. In fact, without the shared experience of college, their entire friend group is splintering. Needing his friends more than ever, Wade becomes obsessed with turning back the hands of time. But with everyone’s hopes and expectations so tangled up, it might take an outsider—someone like painfully shy librarian Eleanor—to provide some much-needed perspective. That is, if she could get out of her head long enough to risk making a connection.

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The Jinn’s Jest

The Jinn’s Jest
Title: The Jinn’s Jest
Category:
Published: February 23, 2017
Author's Twitter: @Gwen_fntsy_writ
It is the 14th century and Grenada is again under threat thrusting thirteen year old Sultana Ara and her cousin Layla again into danger. As Ara and Layla sail down the Grenadian coast to raise tribute for the Castilians, a magical and mischievous Jinn appears to cause trouble. And worse, a young, arrogant Venetian boy, Tomas, is aboard their ship. The Jinn issues a mathematic challenge to the young people; the stakes are high and none can afford to lose. Ara and her friends must use all their skill to protect themselves and Grenada, but will it be enough to defeat a Jinn? And what happens to the Jinn if he loses?

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The Ahe’ey Series

The Ahe’ey Series
Title: The Ahe’ey Series
Author:
Published: March 8, 2017
Author's Twitter: @JamieLeFay
Thirty-four-year-old Morgan is a dreamer, change maker and art lover. She is a feisty, slightly preachy, romantic feminist full of contradictions and insecurities. Morgan uncovers a world where women have the power, and where magic is no longer just a figment of her wild imagination. Sounds like a dream, but it may, in fact, turn into a nightmare. The world of the Ahe'ey challenges and subverts her views about gender, genes, and nature versus nurture. The strong and uninvited chemistry between her and the dashing Gabriel makes matters even more complicated. His stunning looks keep short-circuiting her rational mind.

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Curse Breaker

Curse Breaker
Title: Curse Breaker
Category:
Author:
Published: December 1, 2016
She'll risk her life to break his curse but revealing the truth could be far more dangerous. In high school, a friend’s mother blames Grayson Steele for the tragic death of her daughter. Now, years later, Grayson is wealthy and successful, but on the brink of suicide. Because the women he loves are dying. And he can’t stop it. Knowing about Grayson’s circumstances, Gillian Fletcher derives a plan. Catch the killer who’s making Grayson Steele’s life a living hell. But there’s only one way to do it. She has to be the bait. As Grayson and Gillian’s plan takes shape, they must not only expose a killer, but also their feelings for each other. The further they go, the more secrets they will reveal. Secrets that will illuminate not just a murderer, but shocking truths that neither may be prepared to face. Truths that will change their future forever.

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Poison Heartbeats

Poison Heartbeats
Title: Poison Heartbeats
Published: October 20, 2016
Author's Twitter: @templewms
Poison Heartbeats by Temple Emmet Williams is a contemporary fiction novel about a terrorist plot that deals with real-world entities including the US Department of Homeland Security and ISIL. An introductory passage by the author lets us know that for the most part, his fictitious interpretations of these entities are accurate, although he has taken some liberties by extending the sphere of influence of the Department of Homeland Security. It becomes clear within the first few chapters that this is a book that is well-researched, and the author’s use of real-world facts compliments the ambitious adventure we are brought on. We are also told before the story begins that this book is the second in the Heartbeat series (Wrinkled Heartbeats being the first, which AI gave 4.5/5 Stars) but that they are standalone novels and can be read independently of one-another. A number of sharply-written characters cross paths throughout the narrative, and special mention needs to be made of the author’s use of space and setting. The author takes the reader on a globe-trotting tour that highlights both the differences and parallels of each environ. This is a book that paints a thrilling picture with its words, which is only slightly dampened by some odd structural choices. Each chapter is named and comes with an image and a short statement that sets the stage for what is about to happen. In some of the chapters, these pictorial clues and scene settings help the reader visualize what is happening, but on a whole seem unnecessary for such a well-written and descriptive novel. While reading, I couldn’t help but wonder if seeing the characters and environments of the story in a picture didn’t ruin my own imagining of them when they were described to me a few pages later. Some of the images and introductory clauses are also redundant. This is a minor negative in a magnificent story, and it’s hard for me to fault an author for giving the reader something extra, but this is a story that can easily rest on its own skillful story-telling, rather than on pictures. Aside from this unnecessary distraction, the book is well-structured, well-paced, and often hard to pull yourself away from. As mentioned earlier, this is a book that deals with a number of characters and presents the reader with many different viewpoints. The book is not guilty of head-hopping, though, and while you get a number of perspectives, the author weaves them into and out of the story easily, and when things culminate in an epic final act, each storyline is satisfied in one way or another. The ending of the book is fantastic and drums up the action leading to a thrilling climax. It’s a fun journey that is at times reflective and poignant and at others gritty and tense. There is humor and romance alongside the grim depiction of modern terrorism. While, at the end, the story lines are all satisfied, not all of them come to an ultimate coda, leaving the door open for some future adventures for some of our key players. The author’s follow-up, African Heartbeats has already been announced and the Heartbeats series itself will comprise of six novels total when finished. I recommend Poison Heartbeats to fans of contemporary fiction who enjoy action, suspense, and the kind of story that could easily take place in our current political climate. 4.5/5 Stars.

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Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou

Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou
Title: Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou
Published: November 15, 2016
Author's Twitter: @steven_burgauer
Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou intertwines historic persons, events and locales of World War II with a fictional Nazi plot to disrupt the manufacture of Higgins boats, the Allied landing craft which won the war.  Spanning the globe from amphibious landings at Gavutu and Guadalcanal, to the Navajo code talker school near San Diego, to the exotic environs of New Orleans, to the secret world of Bletchley Park, England, to the Allied invasion of North Africa, this tautly written thriller, covering two weeks during the summer of 1942, combines an intriguing cast of characters with the historically important Andrew Jackson Higgins, Admiral John Godfrey of British Intelligence, Navajo code talker Chester Nez, Colonel “Wild Bill” Donovan of the OSS (later the CIA), Commander Ian Fleming of MI6, along with a Polish intelligence officer code-named “Rygor,” and Sylvestro “Silver Dollar Sam” Carolla, the crime boss of New Orleans.   A German dies in a New Orleans whorehouse.  He is carrying a mysterious notebook filled with hand-drawn maps, surveillance notes and cryptic codes.  As a result, Nazi Waffen SS conspirators ruthlessly search for that notebook, killing anyone, including two U.S. Marshals, who get in the way of their plans to disrupt the production of the Eureka steel-ramped landing crafts built by Higgins Industries.   Can this sabotage be stopped by a U.S. Navy intelligence officer, or a New Orleans Mafia don and his Cuban mistress with ties to British MI6, or the brilliant codebreakers of Bletchley Park?  The lives of U.S. Marines and Navajo code talkers in the Pacific and the Allied Forces of Operation Torch in North Africa are depending on their success in disrupting the plot.   The victory of Allied Forces hangs in the balance.

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King’s Table

King’s Table
Title: King’s Table
Category:
Published: February 28, 2015
Becoming a Thane—an elite rebel spy trained to deceive, manipulate and kill—was Timothy’s life. He was driven. Obsessed. Fanatical. Then, in a moment, he lost everything. Now Timothy fights for survival and revenge in the Huctan death rings. When his recklessness and skill take him all the way to the Huctan capitol, he finds himself enmeshed in a deadly game of lies and deception. While his brother leads a last desperate rebellion in Botan, Timothy must rub shoulders with the Huctan princess, match wits with the man who betrayed his country, and navigate the plots, duplicity, and tests of loyalty that could decide the fate of his nation. The thrilling conclusion of the Everknot Duet.

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Hosanna

Hosanna
Title: Hosanna
Publisher:
Published: May 8, 2016
The last thing Hosanna wants is a bucket, a dishrag, and a brush. After all, it’s been fifteen years. Her heart and knees have grown callous from years of scrubbing floors for her racist grandmother who’s disgusted over the unlawful deeds of Hosanna’s white mother and black father. But Hosanna is now tired. Tired of her grandmother who has cloaked the family’s shame for far too long. So tired, she has waxed in wrath, counted every injustice, and rebelled against all who obstruct her quest for truth. So will she ever find peace? This uniquely-crafted story transcends time and takes us from the racial animus of 1945 to the abiding power of grace that heals and binds divisive wounds.

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