‘Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows’ by J.M. Bergen

Published by Elandrian Press, Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows is a new Middle Grade Fantasy by J.M. Bergen released in February 2019.

Synopsis:
Magic is real, Thomas. No matter what happens, always remember that magic is real. 
Seven years have passed, and Thomas hasn’t forgotten. He hasn’t forgotten the blue of his dad’s eyes either, or the tickle of beard on his cheek as they hugged goodbye. Last moments with a parent are memorable, even if you don’t know that’s what you’re having at the time.
Now, with his 13th birthday rapidly approaching, Thomas’s search for magic is about to take a radical and unexpected turn. At an out-of-the-way shop filled with dusty leather books, a strange little man with gold-flecked eyes offers him an ancient text called The Book of Sorrows. The price is high and the rules are strict, but there’s no way Thomas can resist the chance to look inside.
With the mysterious book guiding the way, a strange new world is revealed – a world in which Thomas has a name and destiny far more extraordinary than he ever imagined. But time is short. Even as Thomas uncovers his secret family history, enemies emerge, threatening to end his rise to power and destroy everything he holds dear.
Through a fresh voice, genuine characters, and a unique storyline, Thomas Wildus and The Book of Sorrows is destined to appeal to fans of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and readers who enjoy books about magic and adventure.

Praise for Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows: 
“I am always so excited when I come across a book series that I KNOW my middle schoolers will LOVE!  I hit the jackpot when I had the opportunity to review the book, Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows by J.M. Bergen.  It is exactly the type of book my students are always interested in! … I already have a waiting list in my classroom of kids that want to check it out! … If your students love the likes of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, they are sure to be equally obsessed with The Book of Sorrows Series!”Lit with Lyns
“Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows is a charming, chummy tale that will instantly draw in any reader who has secretly (or not so secretly) wished for a little more wonder in their world. Parallels will of course be drawn to the Harry Potter series—and rightfully so—but this book also shares much in common with Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.” – 5 Stars, Red City Review
“Middle graders will find Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows a compelling story… and an adventure tale that proves hard to put down.” – Midwest Book Review
“Reading this truly well-written novel was a lot of fun… It had plenty of exciting moments, funny parts, intriguing developments, and characters you just have to love… Harry Potter fans would love Thomas Wildus too. And while the story is aimed at younger readers, adults can also enjoy it.” – 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kim Anisi for Readers’ Favorite
“An exciting story about family, friendship, magic, and good versus evil.”KidsBookshelf
“For fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, I would definitely recommend this book as a must-read…”Alliee Reads
“This is a wonderful fantasy tale well-told by the author. The character development is good, the friendships Thomas has are heart-warming and the magic is unpredictable.”Long and Short Reviews
“Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows is an enchanting foray into a fantasy world where stories can become realities, science and magic intersect, and crystals hold the power to destroy. If you’re looking for an enthralling and thought-provoking read, this is the book for you!”Middle Grade Minded
“This was a wickedly fun and richly imaginative middle-grade urban fantasy with a compelling plot and endearing characters… From the moment Thomas enters the bookstore I was hooked and couldn’t wait to find out the mysterious book’s secrets. This little gem of a story has magic, action, mystery, intrigue and rollicking adventure, and held my interest until the wild ending… there are more adventures yet to come so I can’t wait to delve into the next book.”Roger’s Reads
“This is a very fast-paced fantasy adventure tale that has great friendship representation, lots of magic and a thrilling adventure for young readers.”Noveltea Corner
“I highly recommend this book for 4th and 5th graders! My son Caleb, who is a 4th grader this year, finished the book in just 3 days! He could not put it down. We both enjoyed the deep plot twists and unexpected surprises throughout the story.” – The Butterfly Teacher
“In Thomas Wildus and The Book of Sorrows, J.M. Bergen has created a marvelous fantasy/sci-fi story for children and teens. With all the qualities a great book should have, the story holds your interest and offers a pleasing blend of legend and modern-day problems. Thomas must choose between good and evil… and accept the consequences of his actions. J.M. Bergen provides a wonderful tale that anyone can enjoy.” – 5 Stars, Reviewed by Melinda Hills for Readers’ Favorite
“Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows by J.M Bergen is a stunning fantasy novel… The book was very descriptive and incredibly well written. The plot was intriguing and well thought through … This book will entertain readers of all ages. I would definitely recommend this book.” – 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kristen Van Kampen (Teen Reviewer) for Readers’ Favorite

Excerpt:
…Thomas froze, this time blinking furiously. When he could see again, he found himself staring at a shop on the other side of the street. A sign hung above a wooden door with slightly faded red paint. The lettering was too small to read, but there were splotches of purple around the edges. It was the only purple Thomas could see anywhere. He looked both ways and jogged across the street.
The sign came into focus. H&A Booksellers, Purveyors of Fine Books and Rare Manuscripts. The words were painted in chipped gold leaf, with tiny purple flowers nestled in the arcs and whorls of the lettering. Thomas stared at the sign, his eyes following the path of the thin green vine that wound through the gold letters.
Was it possible that a bookstore in this area had escaped his attention? Not a chance. Not one that was listed on the Internet anyway. But the shop was here, every bit as real as the humming man a moment earlier. Thomas felt an uneasy excitement in his chest. Cars zipped past on Main, but this street was practically deserted. He looked at the red door, at the plastic placard dangling from the nail in the center. Open.
He contemplated his next move. The options were simple. Forget what had just happened and turn around in time to catch his bus home or go inside and risk being laughed at for the hundredth time.
He reached out and pressed on the old-fashioned handle, forcing himself not to think about the disappearing man or the prospect of pending humiliation. The door swung open. The wide wooden counter and oversized green cash register looked as ancient as the faded lighting and worn carpet. The place was bigger than he would have expected, though, with shelves running far beyond the point where they logically should have ended.
The size was just the first curious thing about the shop. Everything else was different, too. There were no racks of shiny best-sellers, no big display cases promoting glossy fiction. Instead, cloth and leather-bound volumes were stacked and piled and crammed together in an endless sprawl of dusty texts. Every shelf was chock full of unrecognizable old books. The place was a goldmine. Jackpot!
Thomas looked at the placard at the end of the nearest row. The inscription stamped in tarnished bronze was faded but legible. Alch. Hist. 1127 1490. He reached for the nearest book, a tall, narrow volume wrapped in faded red leather, wondering what the inscription meant.
“Ahem.”
The forced cough originated behind Thomas’s left shoulder. He turned, startled, and found himself eye to eye with a man who had thin graying hair, a sharp nose, and hazel eyes flecked with specks of gold. The man stood with his hands behind his back and wore a yellowed apron with the words In Liber Veritas stenciled on the front.
“May I help you, young man?” The shopkeeper was only a few inches taller than Thomas himself.
“I, uh, I hope so.” Thomas looked around the shop, his eyes wide with wonder. “This place is amazing.”
“Thank you,” said the little man, inclining his head in a slight bow. “Is there something in particular you are hoping to find?”
The wonder receded, replaced by a wrenching anxiety that knotted his gut and made his palms turn clammy. He could hear the scornful responses of the others he’d asked. Are you messing with me, kid? What, are you some kind of idiot? There’s no such thing as magic, dummy. Go on, get out of here.
He pushed the voices out of his head. “I’m looking for books about magic. Magic books, really.”
“Back of the shop and to the left.” The man pointed a finger past Thomas to an even more dimly lit part of the building. “We have a wonderful selection of collectibles in the fantasy genre and more than a few New Age texts as well. I’m sure you’ll find something to your liking.”
Fantasy and New Age? Really? Thomas’s shoulders slumped. He took a half-hearted step toward the back of the shop and paused, the knot in his gut tightening. As much as he hated getting laughed at, the idea of digging through piles of worthless books was as unexciting as the prospect of scrolling through another online ‘magic’ forum. If ever there was a place that might have what he really wanted, this was it. He sucked in a deep breath and turned around.
The man looked at Thomas with one eyebrow raised. “Yes?”
“I, uh, I’m not really looking for those kinds of books,” he managed. “I was hoping for something different. Something more unusual.”
“What do you mean by unusual?” the man asked. “Be specific, please.”
This was it. The part where he got laughed out of the building. Thomas looked at his feet, wondering if he should even bother. He considered turning around, but the words on the man’s yellowing apron caught his eye. In Liber Veritas. Veritas meant truth, right? He looked up, his eyes locking onto those of the little man. “Unusual as in magical. Not fiction or fantasy or New Age. Magic. Real magic.”
“Real magic? What makes you think there’s any such thing?”
Thomas’s body tensed, preparing for a swift retreat from the store. His dad’s last words flashed into his mind, the final fragment before everything changed. “Magic is real, Thomas. No matter what happens, always remember that magic is real.”
He sucked in a deep breath and forced himself to stand still. The air rushed out in a whoosh. “I-I just do.”
“But why?” The man’s expression was curious, focused, his eyes boring into Thomas like a drill. “And even if there were such a thing, what would it have to do with you?”
“Never mind. Just forget about it.” Thomas spun toward the exit, his cheeks flushed and heart racing. Halfway to the door, he paused. The man wasn’t laughing. He was asking questions. That, at least, was different. Thomas turned around. The man’s unwavering eyes reflected the overhead lights, glinting with fragments of gold.
“It’s, uh, it’s something someone told me a long time ago,” said Thomas. “Someone I trusted.”
The man tilted his head, his expression almost curious. “Somebody told you magic is real, and you believed them?”
Blue eyes stared at Thomas out of a distant memory, sincere and earnest. He felt the roughness of his dad’s calloused hand on his cheek, the tickle of soft beard as he pulled Thomas close and kissed his forehead for the last time. “Magic is real, Thomas.” Magic is real.
Thomas drew himself up to full size and met the man’s stare directly. “Yes. I did. I do.”
“And now you want a magic book, but not the make-believe kind?”
Thomas nodded. The shopkeeper’s eyes were ageless, his stare unsettling. Thomas stood tall, refusing to break the connection even though his insides had turned to jelly.
“What is your name, young seeker of magic?” The hint of a smile crinkled the subtle features of the man’s face.
“Thomas,” he answered. “Thomas Wildus.”
The smile lines smoothed, and the man’s face took on a serious expression. “You’re late.”

About the Author:
J.M.’s debut fantasy/magic series originally started as a bedtime story for his oldest son. The story turned into a saga, and one book turned into five. The first book in the series, Thomas Wildus and The Book of Sorrows, is scheduled for release in February 2019. The second, Thomas Wildus and The Wizard of Sumeria, will be published in early 2020.
When J.M. isn’t working on the Thomas Wildus books, you can find him playing with his kids, napping, or dreaming up new adventures. If you ever meet him and can’t think of anything to talk about, you might ask about Herman the Shark, the Kai and Eli stories, or why Riddle-Master by Patricia McKillip is his all-time favorite book. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll have questions and stories of your own (if you do, he’ll think that’s far more interesting).
To learn more, visit www.jmbergen.com.

“The Girls Are Gone” by Michael Brodkorb and Allison Mann

The Girls Are Gone, by Michael Brodkorb and Allison Mann, tells the true story of two sisters who went missing, the father who kept searching, and the adults who conspired to keep the truth hidden.
On the evening of April 19, 2013, Samantha and Gianna Rucki disappeared. Two of five children born to David Rucki and Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, the teenage sisters vanished in the midst of their parents divorce.
The girls father, David Rucki, worked tirelessly with law enforcement to search day and night for his two missing daughters, following every lead while raising three remaining children at home. Their mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, used her newfound freedom to vacation around the world, abandoning her children. And as the investigation intensified, catching the attention of the media, Sandra also disappeared.
On November 18, 2015 – 944 days after they disappeared – the girls were found living on a ranch in northern Minnesota by law enforcement.
Criminal charges were filed against four people, including the girls’ mother, for their role in the disappearance of the Rucki sisters. “The Girls Are Gone” chronicles key events during the criminal trials of the people who were later convicted or pleaded guilty for their involvement in this heinous crime.  The book examines the other adults who aided in the conspiracy to hide the truth and the Rucki sisters.

Praise for The Girls Are Gone:
“The Girls Are Gone is an excellent true crime book… This is a very involved book with lots of detail, including court transcripts, telling the whole story from start to finish, filling in some of the lesser known details about the case. This book reads like a crime novel but is far more horrifying, given that we know it is the truth. It is riveting and compelling reading… I like true crime stories and this one is way above any other just because of the amount of detail and the way it was written; matter of fact yet drawing you into the web a step at a time. Fantastic book, I wish there were more like it.” – 5 Stars, Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers’ Favorite
“True crime stories relate facts and events; but superior accounts grab the reader’s heart. The Girls Are Gone achieves this as it portrays the bigger issues of parental responsibility, kidnapping, child endangerment, and legal investigations… As true crime and kidnapping stories go, The Girls Are Gone is head and shoulders above most others, probing a network of crime and the impact of hidden truths that will leave readers thinking long past the conclusion… The Girls Are Gone should be on the reading lists of anyone interested in not just true crime stories of kidnapped children, but accounts of desperation and the bravery of survivors who come forth to tell their stories to change the world.” – Reviewed by Diane Donovan for Midwest Book Review

About the Authors:
Michael Brodkorb and Allison Mann met during the 2016 Grazzini-Rucki criminal trial. Allison worked at a law firm representing David Rucki, the father, who was trying to find his girls. Michael was working for the Star Tribune, covering the story as the case developed.
Michael and Allison have spent the last two years working together investigating and researching to find the answers to many questions that had been left unanswered for years. They have analyzed court documents, reviewed investigative files, and conducted numerous interviews to provide a completed story about how and why two children vanished from their family and friends for 944 days.  Their passion for following the case and connecting the dots to figure out the truth of what really happened led them to write “The Girls Are Gone.”
“The Girls Are Gone” provides new details about the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki and includes interviews with members of the Rucki family, including exclusive interviews with Samantha and Gianna Rucki. The book also discusses the connection between Michelle MacDonald, who is currently a candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court. MacDonald was labeled a “person of interest” by the Lakeville Police Department in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki, but did not cooperate in the investigation.

“The Girls Are Gone” was released on October 23, 2018, published by Wise Ink Creative Publishing. It is available for sale on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback.
Readers can connect with the authors on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter (@AllisonMannMN and @MBrodkorb).
To learn more, go to: http://missinginminnesota.com/

Operation Clusterpuck, a B.S., Incorporated Novel

Operation Clusterpuck is a sequel to B.S., Incorporated. It was released in November 2018, published by Wise Ink Publishing.
Operation Clusterpuck tells the funny, cynical but heartfelt story of Business Solutions, Inc. (BSI) — a U.S. corporation whose leaders have set in motion a series of disastrous projects that threaten to take the company down. BSI’s ragtag communications team once again gets pressed into action, juggling around-the-clock workloads, battling ruthless execs, and struggling to find meaning in their lives outside of work. 
“We wanted to tell the story of those unsung corporate heroes — the ones who are barely keeping their heads above water, but still do the right thing for their work ‘family,’ even when it’s not easy,” says coauthor Jennifer Rock. 
“Readers often tell us they recognize themselves and their co-workers in our novels,” adds coauthor Michael Voss. “We’re thrilled to reflect their work lives and experiences. Even if our stories might feel like a fun-house mirror.”

Praise for Operation Clusterpuck:
“Five stars. A rollicking ride that melds corporate intrigue, romance, and humor to create a spellbinding narrative … plunging readers into the soul of corporate life with its challenges and perils. Fast-paced and a hugely satisfying read, it’s first-rate entertainment.” – Readers’ Favorite
“Full of biting business jokes, workplace camaraderie and plenty of cheeky pop culture references. Impossible to put down.” – US Review
“A fine business novel. Operation Clusterpuck weaves intrigue and conundrums into a volatile story.” – Midwest Book Review
“Five stars … you’re in for a treat. By revealing the cobwebby crevices of corporate life, Rock and Voss show how even something as seemingly mundane as another day at the office can quickly turn into a scenario you’re more likely to see in a disaster movie.” – Red City Review

Synopsis:
Fresh off the brink of an all-American corporate disaster, Business Solutions, Inc., is launching a new, ill-advised venture, north of the border. As BSI executives pin their hopes and bonuses on a hastily planned Canada partnership, a shocking shakeup at the top threatens not only BSI’s expansion, but its legacy and future.
Just as Will Evans begins hitting his groove as BSI communications director and potential love interest for coworker Anna Reed, he’s booted out of his comfort zone. Thrown into a high-stakes international expansion, he’s forced to navigate a bumbling tech startup, worldly new colleagues, and Anna’s underhanded ex.
Back in Minneapolis, Anna is losing her sense of purpose – and maybe her mind – as she juggles an exploding workload, a complicated office romance, and new anxieties about her long-buried past. She also might be the only thing left standing between exec Lyle Kirkland and his most devious plot yet.
As BSIers get distracted with slapdash plans, technology fiascos, and pirate seminars, Will and Anna must race against the clock to save the company – and themselves. But is there time to change the course of people and companies so set in their ways? Or are some greedy schemes so deep and deceitful they can’t be stopped?

About the Authors:
Jennifer Rock and Michael Voss spent two decades careening through corporate America and barely lived to write about it. As company journalists, speechwriters, and C-suite advisors, they stockpiled insider stories and cautionary tales. Both live near Minneapolis where they own a communications agency, speak to groups of all sizes, and share their perspectives in publications like the Washington Post. Operation Clusterpuck is their second novel.
To learn more, go to http://www.rockandvossbooks.com/

Chroma Crossing Chronicles: Blood Moon by S. Yurvati

Blood Moon, by S. Yurvati, is the first book in the Chroma Crossing Chronicles series. Genres: Fantasy / Romance / Women’s Fiction / Recommended for readers ages 18+

Praise for Blood Moon:
“Blood Moon is the perfect example of fantasy writing at its best… a multifaceted read which keeps reads involved, intrigued, and happily challenged by a myriad of subplots and characters. Blood Moon is anything but formula writing, and the very things that makes its nature elusive is the strength that sets it apart from most fantasy, romance, or other genre productions…. Suffice it to say that readers of fantasy, romance, intrigue, and women’s fiction will find much to like in the complex Blood Moon. It excels in many surprising twists and turns as Candy and Thorne face their flaws, weaknesses, dreams, and a danger that ventures into paranormal realms.” – Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

Synopsis:
Hunky pheromone-laden-man meets pretty accident-prone female—it should have been a love story with a happily ever after ending. However, when the bored deities choose Candy and Thorne for an amusing game, the gods and goddesses put forth sets of circumstances that can tear the couple apart and wound them deep within their souls.
With her father’s sudden demise, Candy finds she’s inherited funds and a house in beautiful historic Savannah. Not only can she now afford to go to the Savannah College of Art and Design, her future as an artist looks promising. But unfortunately, her step-mom and her disturbing son Todd reside in the main house.
When Candy gets her first commission for a life-sized portrait of a beautiful woman from a rather unsettling man, she soon questions what had seemed coincidental. Candy is a modest female who has always found solace in her artwork, whereas her widowed step-mom, Cherry Ann, considers physical pleasure and money as her measures of worth. As Candy pursues her art, Cherry Ann pursues a new lover. Cherry Ann finds her new risqué sex life to be addictive and doesn’t recognize the danger of the man she’s invited into her life.
After surviving a couple of ‘accidents’, Candy realizes someone apparently wishes her harm. When she’s chased (by the one thing she fears most) Candy accidentally, or so it seems, crosses into a new dimension. She finds herself in an unknown wilderness with a curious terrain that is void of color. The landscape looks like an old sepia photograph, hardly the Savannah spring day she’d left behind.  As Candy stumbles through the wild terrain, an intriguing hunter comes upon her. His presence makes her girlie parts beg to become ill behaved, and before she knows it, her hormones are arguing with her strict moral compass.

About the Author:
S. Yurvati has always loved reading and writing. She began putting her thoughts and imaginings on paper during her childhood and continued through college years. She began writing Blood Moon back in her college days, but after graduating from CSUN with a Master’s Degree, she had to work on earning a living and had to put her writing on hold… After three decades of working in the medical world, her husband convinced her to retire and take the time to write. That led to the beginning of Chroma Crossing Chronicles and her first book: Blood Moon. The series includes: Blood Moon (Part 1 and Part 2), followed by Book 3 Dragon Tear, and Book 4 Infinity Link. S. Yurvati is currently working on the fifth and final installment of the Chroma Crossing Chronicles series.
S. Yurvati lives in Texas with the love-of-her-life husband. They have been happily married for going on 44 years. Readers can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to https://syurvatiauthor.com/ 

A World Worth Seeing by Brian Nelson

A World Worth Seeing is a new travel book by Brian Nelson recommended for aspiring world travelers. In A World Worth Seeing, Brian Nelson details his 13 years of world travel, visiting 190 countries on seven continents on a shoe string budget. He takes readers through North and South America, Australia and the Pacific Islands, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. At only 90 pages in length, it’s a quick yet informative read.
“The world is big, but surprisingly accessible,” says Brian. “I wrote this book to show readers what’s out there based on my own experiences and to offer ideas on how they can do the same. I don’t want to tell people where to go. I only want to plant a seed, to get people interested in going beyond the borders, to see a bigger world. Travel isn’t meant for the wealthy alone, but for anyone with a heart for adventure. A World Worth Seeing retraces my time before travel, notes my experiences in every country visited in the last thirteen years, and offers ideas on how to go about on your own travel adventure… Come on, the world is waiting.”
Filled with colorful travel photos from unique places all over the world, A World Worth Seeing will fuel your wanderlust and inspire your next adventure!

Praise for A World Worth Seeing:
“Aiming to plant the seeds of adventure in aspiring travellers, Nelson’s book shows how accessible and how easy it is to circumnavigate the world. This short-read plots one world traveller’s course across the Americas, Australasia, Europe, Asia and Africa and offers the reader a blueprint map of where to go and what to see. The book lists places to visit and sights to explore but withholds detailed information and lengthy anecdotes. Perhaps this is intentional in the hope that readers will be inspired to research and explore their own travel destinations. Certainly, this book will provide useful ideas about itineraries, but equally leaves space for individuals to supplement their own experiences. In our opinion, this book would be ideal for anyone who has an interest in world travel. However, it would be especially useful to would-be travellers who are looking for a starting point to build an itinerary from accessible information about travel destinations across the globe.”Off The Tourist Treadmill 
“A World Worth Seeing recounts the experiences of Brian Nelson, who has visited over 190 countries on seven continents over the years. Here he documents these journeys using a step-by-step series of descriptions to tell how he traveled the world… Readers with a sense of wanderlust who intend to travel the world will find World Worth Seeing an excellent, inspirational guide to crafting their own world journeys.”Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review
“A World Worth Seeing by Brian Nelson is a tantalizing teaser of a book for fans of international travel.”Red City Review

Gazelle in the Shadows by Michelle Peach

Gazelle in the Shadows is a historical thriller by Michelle Peach. The novel takes place in Syria and is largely based on her real life experiences.
Michelle Peach graduated from Durham University in 1995 with a B.A. in Arabic with Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. During 1992, she spent her second year of college studying abroad at the Arabic Teaching Institute for Foreigners in Damascus. Since then, Michelle’s love for Syria has never been far from her thoughts. When the unrest began in 2011, her determination to start writing Gazelle in the Shadows intensified. “I was distraught and appalled by the suffering of the people and by the destruction of its historical sites in Aleppo, Palmyra, Bosra, Homs, Damascus and elsewhere. I know that many will not have the opportunity to see the sights of Syria due to the ongoing conflict, but I hope that through my story readers can enjoy the cities, landscapes and culture of Syria.”
Synopsis –
In the mid 90s, Elizabeth Booth, a young British college student studying Arabic at Durham University, travels to Damascus to immerse herself in the Syrian language. Taken aback by the generosity and kindness of the people there, she easy slips into a life in the ancient city. She has friends, her studies, and even a handsome boyfriend. But things aren’t always as they seem. Soon, in a world where mistrust and disloyalty are commonplace, Elizabeth finds herself navigating a web of lies, betrayals, and a murder involving MI6, deadly terrorist factions, and the shadowy Syrian secret police.
From the Prologue –
When I traveled to Syria as a Durham student in 1992, I knew very little about the country. From the onset, I was overwhelmed by their welcome. But the longer I stayed in Damascus and especially when I started working for Dr. Andrew Rathmell, as his Arabic translator and assistant researcher, the more I understood of Syria’s tumultuous and violent history. At the time, Hafez al-Assad, the President of Syria since 1971, was at the height of his autocratic power and the country was in a state of relative calm since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. His vast security apparatus was evident on every street corner whether army, police or civilian informants. My travel guide dedicated an entire page to the various types of mukhabarat, secret police, present in the country but also reassuringly wrote that Syria was a “safe” country for travelers. Not so obvious was the fear, paranoia and suppression which his people lived under…

Praise for Michelle Peach’s Gazelle in the Shadows:
“Compellingly realistic and packed with both psychological and physical action, Gazelle in the Shadows adds an extra layer of cultural understanding to its espionage thriller theme.” -Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“Peach integrates myriad plot developments into her exciting and ambitious work … The central conceit is both original and compelling.” -BookLife Prize
“Michelle Peach brings Syrian culture and cityscapes to life with her descriptions and characters… the author is able to accurately capture a specific moment in Middle Eastern history that still has ramifications on modern-day Syrians. For those looking for a glimpse into new cultures with a taste of a spy thriller, Gazelle in the Shadows will both warm your heart and send shivers down your spine.” -Red City Review
“Gazelle in the Shadows is both a coming of age story and a reflection of life in the looking glass world of Hafez al-Asad’s Syria. While told through an intensely personal lens, Michelle’s story provides a sideways look at a Syria that is now gone but also hints at some of the underlying factors that contributed to the country’s ongoing agonies. The book is an unusual combination of bittersweet student memories, geopolitical machinations, and “factionalised” adventures; well worth a read.” – Dr Andrew Rathmell, Author of Secret War in the Middle East: The Covert Struggle For Syria 1949 -1961
Gazelle in the Shadows is a novel filled with intensity. My favorite part of this novel is the main character, Elizabeth, who is smart, kind and loyal to the people around her… As a reader, you like her and empathize with her, but at other times you want to tell her to rethink her decisions. She is young, however, and making mistakes is what causes her to learn more about herself and who she is… Michelle Peach’s writing is good; I especially like the dialogue and descriptions of what life was like in Syria. Her descriptions are smooth and beautiful;  I was impressed with how much I learned about the history of Syria and the Middle East… I suggest this book to anyone who is interested in the different countries of the Middle East, or wants to read a quick coming of age story. This book teaches you that the most important things in life are the things you find within yourself.” – Katherine’s Book Reviews
“Gazelle in the Shadows quite literally had me on the edge of my seat, from beginning to the very end. Michelle’s writing left me wanting to find out more after every chapter and I couldn’t help but read on… Gazelle in the Shadows is a very poignant and thought-provoking story that keep’s you gripped to the very end.” – 5 Stars, Marie’s Book Boutique

About the Author:
Michelle Peach graduated from Durham University in 1995 with a B.A. in Arabic with Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. During 1992, she spent her second year of college studying abroad at the Arabic Teaching Institute for Foreigners in Damascus. Since then, Michelle’s love for Syria has never been far from her thoughts. When the unrest began in 2011, her determination to start writing Gazelle in the Shadows intensified. “I was distraught and appalled by the suffering of the people and by the destruction of its historical sites in Aleppo, Palmyra, Bosra, Homs, Damascus and elsewhere. I know that many will not have the opportunity to see the sights of Syria due to the ongoing conflict, but I hope that through my story readers can enjoy the cities, landscapes and culture of Syria.” Gazelle in the Shadows is set to be released in September 2018, published by IngramSpark.
Michelle lives in Atlanta, GA. She is a stay-at-home mom, married with three children. Readers can connect with her on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to https://MichellePeach.com/

Ed Duncan Announces the Release of ‘The Last Straw’

The Last Straw book coverEd Duncan announced today the release of his latest book, The Last Straw, the second book in the Pigeon Blood Red series.
Synopsis:
It started with a run-of-the-mill carjacking.  An inner-city kid with no priors and no experience with a gun fumbled the ball, and the driver ended up dead.
A teenage girl witnessed the whole thing, and now a target has been placed on her back. The carjacker’s father, a notorious crime boss, is willing to move heaven and earth to prevent her from testifying, even if that means having a hitman kill her.
Richard “Rico” Sanders, the best in the business, was his first choice for the job.  But there was a problem.  He was a “killer with a conscience” and a killer with a conscience doesn’t murder teenagers.  The crime boss reluctantly turns to someone who has no such qualms, John D’Angelo.  There was bad blood between him and Rico, so knowing that Rico had passed on the job, he eagerly accepted it.
Rico forms an uneasy alliance with the girls lawyer, Paul Elliott,  to try and protect her from the hitman. As the long-simmering feud between Rico and John D’Angelo reaches boiling point, bodies start to pile up in rapid succession… and old scores will be settled.

Excerpt:
Chapter Two
Paul Elliott stretched and tumbled out of bed, shaved and showered, had a quick bowl of cereal, and was off to work inside forty-five minutes. Thirty minutes later he was behind his desk in his office digging through an avalanche of mail in his in-box when his phone rang. It was the judge’s bailiff. The muscles in Paul’s stomach tightened. The jury had reached a verdict. He looked at his watch: 9:20 a.m. This was some kind of record. The jury had just gotten the case at 3:30 p.m. the day before, an hour before retiring for the day. As his large law firm’s first black partner, he was still a little self-conscious about the need to maintain his excellent won/lost record. Deep inside he knew that this feeling was entirely self-imposed, but that did little to banish it from his psyche.
Paul was at the courthouse in fifteen minutes. Waiting for the elevator, he spied Benjamin Yanders, a neighbor from his apartment building, and followed him into the elevator behind a throng of other people. Yanders was looking down at his shoes and inside the packed elevator Paul couldn’t make eye contact with him. Before he knew it, the elevator had reached his floor and Paul was getting out. He glanced over his shoulder and when he saw his neighbor exiting with a few other people, he stopped and waited for him.
Yanders was tall and thin and an old lower back injury caused him to stoop forward a little when he stood for a while or walked long distances. He had a full head of dark, closely cropped hair that was peppered with gray and he had crowded, bushy eyebrows. His dark brown face was more lined and haggard than Paul remembered from the last time he saw him only a few days earlier.
“You practicing law now, Ben?” Paul joked as Yanders approached.
He was looking right past Paul and hadn’t recognized him, so the sound of his name startled him a little. “Oh, Paul . . . Sorry, I didn’t see you.”
“No problem,” Paul said. “What’s up?”
“Sandy got a subpoena. I’m down here to see the assistant State’s Attorney,” Yanders said, more than a little dejected.
For the first time Paul noticed Yanders’s daughter Sandra. He hadn’t seen her when she got on the elevator or when she got off. Now she was standing a few feet behind her father. Studious and shy, she was a cute sixteen-year-old. As an only child, she looked upon Paul as an older brother and he treated her like a younger sister. He wondered what the State’s Attorney’s interest was in her and why Yanders hadn’t mentioned the subpoena before now. “Hi, Sandy. How are you?” he said.
“Hi, Paul. I’m okay, I guess,” she said, glancing at him when she answered and then looking away.
Paul checked his watch. “The State’s Attorney’s office is around the corner. I’m going that way. I’ll walk with you.”
Yanders didn’t respond, but the three of them started down the hallway together. After a few paces Paul said, “So, Ben, you want to tell me what’s going on?”
Yanders stopped. He had the look of a man who had just come from the funeral of his best friend. “Sandy witnessed a shooting. The guy died,” he said morosely. “They want her to testify against the killer.”
Paul didn’t try to mask his shock. “My goodness. That’s horrible.” He looked over at Sandy. She was out of earshot and still looking away. “How is she?”
“I think she’s holding up better than I am.”
Yanders took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I know you’re wondering why I didn’t call you, but I didn’t want to impose and—”
“Ben, you know me better than that.”
“Yeah, I know. With everything that’s been going on with Danielle and me, I guess I’ve been a little overwhelmed – haven’t been thinking straight. I’m glad I bumped into you.” He was nervous. He paused and took in another lungful of air and let it out.
Paul wanted to hear what had happened, but he had to get to the courtroom soon. “So, fill me in, Ben. What happened?”
“There was a carjacking. This young kid shot the driver. Maybe the guy resisted or maybe the kid panicked. Maybe it was cold blood. I don’t know. Sandy was coming around the corner and the kid must not have seen her, but she got a good look at him – unfortunately. He pushed the guy out of the car and drove off like a bat out of hell. She used her cell to call 911. She was with some of her friends, but since she was way ahead of everyone else, she was the only one who saw it.”
“I think I read something about that in the paper,” Paul said. “Hell of a shame, all the way around.”
Paul turned to Sandy. “Are you holding up okay?”
She returned his gaze and didn’t look away this time. “I’m all right. A little scared, though.”
“I would be, too,” Paul said. “But just a little, like you. Listen, everything’s going to be fine, okay?”
She nodded timidly. Paul smiled at her and extended his fist. She extended hers and they did a fist bump. He then turned his attention to Ben, whose face continued to wear the same worried look. “Ben, what’s the State’s Attorney’s name?”
“Mitchell Tolliver. Do you know him?”
“I do,” Paul said. “I’ll call him and see what I can find out. Then I’ll stop by this afternoon – if that’s okay.”
“Okay? That would be great,” Yanders beamed, smiling for the first time since his daughter told him about witnessing the hijacking. They shook hands and Paul went into the courtroom.

ED DUNCANAbout the Author:
Ed Duncan is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years. He currently lives outside of Cleveland, OH and is at work on the third installment in the Pigeon-Blood Red series. To learn more, go to http://eduncan.net/
Readers can connect with Ed on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

‘Perfect Dealership’ – A Car Dealer’s Guide to Surviving the Digital Age

Perfect Dealership book coverMax Zanan, an automotive retail expert with nearly 20 years of experience, announced today the upcoming release of his book ‘Perfect Dealership’ – a car dealer’s guide to surviving the digital age.
The automotive retail industry is under more pressure than ever. Lower margins, stricter regulations, heavy competition, and online disrupters have many managers with their backs against the wall. With the rise of online auto sales, will the average auto dealership even exist in 10 years?
“Perfect Dealership serves as a wake-up call for the automobile industry,” says Zanan. “Unless car dealerships change – and change quickly – they risk falling into the same digital gulf that obliterated the corner video store and travel agencies… The old ways are dead. It’s time to adapt or fade away.”
With Perfect Dealership, Max Zanan has created the industry’s first truly comprehensive training manual. If you own or manage an auto dealership, or you’re planning a career in the industry, Perfect Dealership is the indispensable guide for automotive management in a modern world.
“Perfect Dealership is the book the auto industry needs. With every chapter, Max outlines a modern and structured view of how to run and grow a profitable, ethical, and future-facing dealership… Perfect Dealership is a handbook for effective automotive management across all levels and departments. Every dealership owner and manager needs a copy.” – Peter Zorzy – Director of Operations – Atlantic Auto Group
“…the industry is changing fast and dealerships need to adapt or die. The processes and concepts outlined in Perfect Dealership are not just important, but frankly are a necessity to future growth and success in an industry that’s getting more competitive by the day.” – Doug Wells – General Manager – Ray Catena Mercedes Benz
“Perfect Dealership isn’t just a book: it’s a manual that should be considered required reading for dealership owners and executives. After 20 years in this industry I can tell you honestly that most retail managers don’t understand hard concepts like HR, IT, and compliance they way they should. Car dealerships can’t expect to just fake it anymore. Real training and professional standards are needed and Perfect Dealership is the book to get us there” – John Lutman – National Sales Director – IAS 
For more information, or to request a review copy, please contact Kelsey Buts at Book Publicity Services at Kelsey@BookPublicityServices.com.