blog tour · book excerpt · book launch · book review · change · hope · Kabul · novella · real life · terrorism · truth

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Finest Supermarket in Kabul

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R&R Book Tours Proudly Presents: The Finest Supermarket in Kabul, a fascinating novella inspired by true events!

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The Finest Supermarket in Kabul

Publication Date: Oct. 30th, 2017

Genre: Novella/ Terrorism/ Inspired by True Events

Kabul, Afghanistan January 28, 2011.

Merza, a freshly minted Parliamentarian receives ominous threats after he wins his seat. Alec, an American journalist, flies from Kandahar without his editor’s permission to chronicle daily life in the capital. Elyssa, a Canadian human rights lawyer in Kabul to train female magistrates, is distracted by unwanted attention from a male justice. On this grey, wintry Friday, all three are embroiled in a dramatic and savage bombing. Inspired by true events and places, The Finest Supermarket in Kabul follows Merza, Alec and Elyssa as their idealistic and visionary hopes for Afghanistan are deeply challenged in the aftermath.

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Excerpt

Alec:

I’ve been in Kabul for just under twenty-four hours. I flew in yesterday from Lashkar Gah, in Helmand Province, after a heated argument with my editor earlier in the week during which I suggested a temporary reassignment to Kabul. Eric demanded I stay in the south for another three-week stint embedded with a US platoon. According to him, my stories from the US outpost were gripping and getting positive reactions from readers. Certainly, the embed was riveting – my first time moving around with US platoons – and gave me stories I couldn’t otherwise have written: intense firefights on a patrol, the evacuation of a wounded soldier, discussions about post-traumatic stress disorder, and fortifying against ambushes. But after three months of only covering action on the front line, I felt my outlook had started to skew by living and breathing the life of an American soldier. The longer I stayed in Helmand, the harder it was becoming to be okay with just telling one side of the story, as opposed to the broader picture. It was when I began saying “T-Ban” instead of Taliban that I knew I needed to get out. Meanwhile, Eric kept insisting that front-line coverage was our best news feature and refused to accept my other ideas, no matter how vigorously I pushed.

So I travelled to Kabul of my own accord to regain some perspective. I figure I’ll hold out an olive branch to Eric later, a magazine-length piece about how local ex-combatants are using the continuing conflict to their advantage. From fellow journalists, I’ve heard about former warlords, their identities and deeds well known, who’ve built massive houses painted in vivid carnival colours in the centre of Kabul and are living the high life, seemingly without repercussion. Interviews with a few of them, along with regular ex-Taliban fighters who got away from the fray, will form the story’s core; here and there, I’ll filter in views from ordinary people. I’m pretty sure Eric will go for an article with a military focus, even if it’s set in Kabul. Plus, he and I go way back, having both started out at the Chicago Tribune after studying at Columbia College Chicago fifteen years ago. If things go completely awry, I’ll hightail it back to Helmand.

I had my initial foray into Afghanistan’s real world yesterday morning. As I entered the plane bound for Kabul, I saw rows and rows of Pashtun men with long beards and turbans or woolen, round-topped hats with thick edging. My heart skipped a beat, as Pashtuns were the ethnic group that had birthed the Taliban, and I wondered if any were Taliban fighters. No one here would protect me from danger, and my visit wasn’t even sanctioned by my boss.

A familiar blast of adrenaline rushes through me.

Jakob stamps out his cigarette and leaps up while I gather my coat and Tish’s things under my arm. We race for the door. Ahead, I see Ben still on his phone but can’t hear him. As news of the explosion circulates, the room’s noise level surges and nervous energy grips the space.

We pick Tish up at the entrance and rush through the security gates, easily retrieving our various IDs and my passport as Ben advises that he’s called for a taxi to pick us up and that Masood, his interpreter, will meet us there.

After three minutes of energetic conversation about what we’ll find at the Finest, the four of us pile into the black Toyota Corolla that has pulled up. Sitting on the raised middle seat in the back, I have to duck my head to glimpse the street scene outside. It looks calm and oddly sedate considering what we know has just happened. Fortunately, traffic is far less jammed than on our morning’s walk over from the Safi.

We’re silent; our initial eagerness to cover this story has given way to an unpleasant realization that we will soon be confronting the bomb’s aftermath of chaos, destruction and injury. Jakob has already explained that the Finest is a convenience store that stocks expensive Western products like Nutella and peanut butter, so almost no Afghans ever shop there. An expat target, then, I ponder.

Available for Purchase

Quattro Books | Amazon | Amazon CA

Amazon UK | B & N| Indigo

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About the Author

Ele Pawelski has lived in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Bosnia, Kenya, Uzbekistan and Kosovo. She has climbed in the Himalayas, walked the Camino and hiked in Newfoundland.

Now living in urban Toronto with her husband, she’s always planning for her next travel adventure.

Her stories have appeared in magazines, journals and newspapers. The Finest Supermarket in Kabul is her first novella.

Ele Pawelski

My Review

This is a fascinating read all centred around one very ordinary day – until something extraordinary happens. Three characters continue with their everyday life, until an explosion at the Finest Supermarket stops them in their tracks. The story focuses on their reaction to the event, and how the aftermath impacts upon them.

Merza is up first. he has just been elected to parliament, and is full of optimism for change, at the same time frustrated by the stranglehold placed upon the pace of change by the governing party. His family has reacted differently to his new position – his parents wary and seemingly disinterested, whether out of fear or because of the attention his new role brings to them. His sister, on the other hand, is excited for him. This nicely shows the changing attitude of a generation towards change. It inspires hope for a better future.

Next up is Alec, a reporter who has just abandoned his job as a military reporter to get some greater insight into how life is for people living it outside of the US forces’ field of vision. He mixes with other journalists, most younger and more daring than he is now – but that’s as a result of a ‘been there, done that’ attitude. That said, he really wants to find a great story to convince his boss that he was right to pursue his own version of AWOL. His encounters make for an interesting read.

Last up is Elyssa, whose role is to train female magistrates in Kabul, a job which suggests change is afoot but is not really given much attention as her story focuses on a social gathering and whether people will be able to attend. For me, this last story lacks the intrigue of the other two. When the story then ends with several lose ends, it leaves me wondering if a sequel is in the offering. Well, if there were such a thing, I’d be up for reading more about this. Absolutely!

The author presents Kabul and its inhabitants with details that get to the heart of the city,reminding us that real people have real lives here. I certainly have a renewed fascination for the human story after this, after all, these are the stories that touch us, inspire us and give us hope.

Giveaway

3 print copies of The Finest Supermarket in Kabul and 5 $20 Amazon GCs (North America Only)

Click on the link below to enter

Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule

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Oct. 1st

Reads & Reels – Review

Cup of Toast – Interview

The Reading Mermaid – Excerpt

Where Dragons Reside – Excerpt

Oct. 2nd

Loving Life Every Day – Excerpt

The Bookworm Drinketh – Excerpt

Tranquil Dreams – Review

Oct. 3rd

The Voluptuous Book Diva – Excerpt

Didi Oviatt – Excerpt

Valerie’s Musings – Excerpt

Oct. 4th

The Genre Minx – Excerpt

Just 4 My Books – Review

Oct. 5th

Bri’s Book Nook – Excerpt

On the Shelf Reviews – Excerpt

Jessica Rachow – Review

My Baby, My Books, and I – Review

Blog Tour Organized By:

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R&R Book Tours

blog tour · book review · novella · serial killer · thriller

Book Review ‘n’ Blog Tour – Go Home, Afton

Go Home, Afton

by Brent Jones

 

Go Home, Afton

Genre: Serial Thriller/ Novella

Series: Afton Morrison, Book 1

Release Date: June 25, 2018

Format(s): eBook

eBook Price: $0.99

Tagline: We all wear masks.

We all wear masks, and Afton Morrison is no exception.

A small-town librarian with a dark side, Afton, twenty-six, has suppressed violent impulses her entire adult life. Impulses that demand she commit murder.

Blending her urges with reason, Afton stalks a known sexual predator, intending to kill him. But her plan, inspired by true crime and hatched with meticulous care, is interrupted by a mysterious figure from her past. A dangerous man that lurks in the shadows, watching, threatening to turn the huntress into the hunted.

Go Home, Afton is the first of four parts in a new serial thriller by author Brent Jones. Packed with grit and action, The Afton Morrison Series delves into a world of moral ambiguity, delivering audiences an unlikely heroine in the form of a disturbed vigilante murderess.

My review: 4/5 stars

Afton Morrison is a librarian in a small town with an itch to scratch – or rather, a serial rapist to kill.

We first see Afton, by no means your stereotypical librarian, as a young, intelligent woman with a smart mouth and heaps of attitude. She has a goal: to kill Kenneth Pritchard.

She is spurred on by Animus (an evil twin type of character) whose mocking voice often riles Afton into venting her anger – and, boy, does she have some pent-up anger to offload.

Unwilling to be seen as a victim herself – always a survivor – she cannot let Kenneth harm another soul. Something she seems to agree about with Animus.

Afton is a complex character. Full of spirit, angst and fear. Her most pressing fear is that the Man in the Shadows – the very man she believes made her a ‘survivor’ – is back for her. She is spooked by every shadow at every opportunity, imaging him to be there, watching, waiting for her.

When the times comes for her to make her move on Pritchard, it seems the Man in the Shadows is one step ahead of her. And now, he has Kim, the sweet young girl who volunteers at the library, in his clutches. Of course, the reality is that Afton is his real prey …and the story continues in Book 2.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that Afton is just out to kill Pritchard. There’s a lot more to her character, and the author seamlessly weaves in elements that show her softer side – much to the displeasure of Animus.

A fun read, with some unexpected twists along the way, all leading to a mahoosive cliffhanger and an absolute need to add book two to my reading list.  Thankfully, the wait is not a long one.

On a side note, I – naively – read this book with no prior knowledge of the author, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the story was set in Wakefield. As a Brit, I love a homegrown story. Except … it wasn’t Wakefield in West Yorkshire.  Hey ho – an honest mistake to make. I should have read the bio below first 😉

About the Author:

From bad checks to bathroom graffiti, Brent Jones has always been drawn to writing. He won a national creative writing competition at the age of fourteen, although he can’t recall what the story was about. Seventeen years later, he gave up his career to pursue creative writing full-time.

Jones writes from his home in Fort Erie, Canada. He’s happily married, a bearded cyclist, a mediocre guitarist, and the proud owner of two dogs with a God complex.

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | SmashWords

 

While I’ve got your attention, why not check what other readers have to say?

Schedule

June 25th

Reads & Reels (Review) http://www.readsandreels.com

Book Wonderland (Review) https://bookwonderlandweb.wordpress.com/

Down the Rabbit Hole (Review) http://meggydowntherabbithole.wordpress.com/

Touch My Spine Book Reviews (Review) https://touchmyspinebookreviews.com

June 26th

Book Dragon Girl (Review) http://www.bookdragongirl.com

Jessica Rachow (Review) http://jessicarachow.wordpress.com

Sinfully Wicked Book Reviews (Review) https://sinfullywickedbookreviews.com

The Scribblings (Review) https://thescribblingssite.wordpress.com

On the Shelf Reviews (Review) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

June 27th

Tranquil Dreams (Review) http://klling.wordpress.com

June 28th

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Review) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com

J Bronder Book Reviews (Review) http://jbronderbookreviews.wordpress.com/

Just 4 My Books (Review) https://just4mybooks.wordpress.com

Life at 17 (Review) https://lifeat17.wordpress.com

June 29th

Kim Knight (Review) http://kimknightauthor.wordpress.com

Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

Port Jerricho (Review)  http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com

Errin Krystal (Review) https://errinkrystal.wordpress.com

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blog tour · book review · novella · psychological suspense · relationships

Book Review : My Sweet Friend

My Sweet Friend

by H.A. Leuschel

Publication Date: December 6, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction

Synopsis: A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives

A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?

Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.

But is Alexa all she claims to be?

As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?

In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.

From the author:

Lying is a symptom shared by the most convincing, cunning and ruthless individuals such as psychopaths and narcissistic manipulators. They have an invincible sense of self-importance and an addictive urge to project an image of power and perfection at all cost which are fuelled by the rewarding tools of charm, diversion and … clever deception.
Like anything in life, whether the skill is morally laudable or not, skills require training, effort and hard work. The danger lies in the brain progressively adapting to the dishonest behaviour and the longer the lies, the harder it would seem to be able to change the conditioning of one’s sensitivity to telling the truth. The truth and nothing but the truth or at the very least the intention to do so most of the time therefore appears to be a basic requirement for any interpersonal trust.
In my new stand-alone novella, I explore the idea that when crossing the line between truth or lie too often, it becomes a curse the person is eventually unable to shed …

Want to see an excerpt? Of course you do 🙂

I was brushing my teeth the next morning when Alexa called, crying over another nasty phone call from her ex. I was running late as it was but was unable to stop her barrage of insults against a man I didn’t even know the name of.
‘He’s driving me absolutely insane. I’ve really had enough,’ I heard her shout, the heels of her shoes clicking on the pavement. She was clearly on her way to work while I was only slipping my feet into my shoes. It had been her second frantic call that morning.
‘Listen. Alexa, calm down. I understand you’re upset but I’ll be late if you don’t stop.’
‘I’m there for you when you need me but when I’m the one in need for once, you fob me off. Great, really nice, thanks.’ She hung up, leaving me in an angry sweat. I was her polar opposite – organized and calm – but lately I felt out of kilter myself. I’d missed out on seeing my mum because, for one reason or another, Alexa managed to ambush my attention.
When I eventually rushed through the office door, Alexa was looking up at me indifferently, in deep conversation with Jack, who tapped his watch with pursed lips and raised eyebrows. I lowered my eyes, my stomach heaving with repressed fury. Alexa had crawled under my skin yet I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why and how it had all come about.
I hid in the ladies’ toilets, panic rising to my throat, and utterly lost for words. I realised that if it had been Alexa running off, I’d have made sure I was giving her moral support, coaxing her back to work. Where was she now that I needed her? Was I getting hysterical, losing the plot?

Be prepared for mind games, this is a thrilling read.

About the Author


Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.

 

Author Links
https://www.facebook.com/HALeuschel

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15337013.H_A_Leuschel
http://www.heleneleuschel.com

Read what others are saying on Goodreads 

Purchase My Sweet Friend Here

Giveaway: Enter for your chance to win a digital copy (Format of Choice) of My Sweet Friend

Blog tour organised by R&R Book Tours

***

My thoughts: 4/5 stars

Don’t you just love a book that demands debate? I know I do. This depiction of the relationship between work colleagues, Alexa and Rosie, does exactly that.
We first meet Alexa while she’s on sick leave. Although, she’s not at home recuperating from her stressful life, she’s in Biarritz. Hmm, say no more, the poor thing! You might actually feel sorry for her at this point.
A call from Rosie – who is still at work – puts Alexa on edge. There is something amiss.

Then comes the backstory to their first encounter when Alexa joins the marketing firm. Everyone at the office is impressed by her, but Rosie, in particular, is captivated by her magnetic aura of confidence and self-assurance. When Alexa drops a few compliments in her direction, Rosie is enchanted, and Alexa soon becomes her closest friend.

With their friendship now established, the story alternates between their points of view and they seem to muddle along well. However, very little is as it seems. While Rosie struggles financially (due to exorbitant care costs for her mother), Alexa is frivolous (until we see her apartment). She buys Rosie expensive gifts galore but doesn’t want anyone else to know she bought them.
They seem to be polar opposites, yet each find something in the other that holds the relationship together.

Bringing Jack, the Account Manager, into the mix adds another layer to the story. Alexa seeks to attract his attention. Her reasons for doing so are not those of a ‘sweet friend’, that’s for sure. She certainly doesn’t expect her ‘grey mouse’ of a friend (her words, not mine) to see through the lies, after all, she has convinced herself that her ‘truth’ is just that: why would anyone doubt her?

Comments made during conversations lead to ‘misunderstandings’, but Alexa talks her way out of everything, always coming out on top. But these inconsistencies continue, creating confusion and doubt in Rosie’s mind . The cracks deepen. Lies unravel further once Jack and Rosie ‘swap notes’, deceptions become clear and confrontation is inevitable.

This is a clever piece of writing. The reader is never quite sure who to believe at the start, but the hints are there, building to the only possible conclusion (or at least the one I hoped for).

This novella left me with many questions. Did Alexa really not expect the outcome? Was she so convinced by her own lies that the truth became fiction to her? Why did she need to lie? What was so wrong with her life that she had no other recourse than to re-invent herself? Why did her employers let her go quietly, only to effectively pass the problem onto the next? Is that ethical? Where would she go next? Where will it end?

The story has novel potential to me – I would have liked greater insight into what made Alexa who she was and more on what lay ahead for her. For me, this was a little like reading the middle of a bigger story – I wanted a beginning and an end too.

Nonetheless, a fascinating, well-written read. Totally plausible and insightful.

This was a story that pulled me in, as evidenced by the many moments spent screaming at the characters:

“Don’t fall for it, Rosie!”

“Not nice, Alexa! Not nice at all.”

“Did she really just wriggle out of that?”  … among others.

Fortunately, no-one spotted me yelling at my Kindle 😉

***

If you choose to purchase Helene’s novella, please consider leaving a review once you’ve read it.

Reviews keep authors writing.

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

mystery · novella · thriller

No more fingernails left to bite!

Manicures would be wasted on me.

Yes, it’s true – I’m a nail-biter.

This time it’s because my latest WIP is about to leave the nest.

The Untruth Hunters is ready for critiquing and the (un)lucky reviewers are those wonderful authors in my writing group. Whilst they’ve been there for my revenge stories, questioned my evil streak and cheered at my fantasy excerpts, this one is a little different – darker and conspiratorial.

the-untruth-hunters

Travis Hunter is existing, nothing more. Having lost his parents and wife in separate, tragic accidents he is prone to depression and self-harm.

When an invitation to avoid the Christmas hullabaloo comes his way, he grabs it without thinking and embarks upon a strange journey with sinister undertones.

On learning his parents did not die, but were instead kidnapped, he is recruited by a secret organisation to bring them home. 

Government conspiracies, ungodly terrain and a killer sleeping disease force Travis to raise his game – no longer can he be a Hunter in name only. 

I guess I’ll have to resort to caffeine and chocolate to calm my nerves and wait for feedback.