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Book Excerpt: To the Breaking Pointe by Cindy McDonald

To the Breaking Pointe 2Title: To the Breaking Pointe
Author: Cindy McDonald
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Pages: 250
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format: Paperback/Kindle

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Pushed to the breaking pointe!

Five years ago First Force operative, Grant Ketchum, let the ballerina of his dreams dance right of his life. Silja Ramsay returned to her birthplace, Russia, to take the position of principal dancer for the Novikov Ballet Company.

The owner and director of the ballet company, Natalia Novikov, has a dark secret: her beloved ballet company is almost broke. Natalia forces her dancers to prostitute themselves to financial contributors at exclusive after-show parties. Silja has been exempt and kept in the dark about the parties—until an American financier offers to bail the failing ballet company out. His prerequisite: Silja must become his personal companion, live in his home, and fulfill his every desire. Against her will, Silja is taken to the American’s mansion, but before she goes she manages to send a text to the only man who can save her, Grant: HELP!

Now Grant is on a mission to find his lost ballerina and rescue her from this powerful man’s subjugation. He will do anything to get her out alive. If they survive, will he let her chasse out of his life again?

Book Excerpt:

“Where is Silja?” Ballard Crafton asked Natalia as he searched the reception room in the basement of the theatre. The room wasn’t particularly large, yet it was quite elegant with red velvet swags hung in the archways, gilded crown moldings, and crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. A bar was set up in one corner while a violinist played softly in another. The room was filled with men, a few older women, and most of the dancers from the Novikov Ballet Company. Only one dancer in particular was missing… Silja Ramsay.

Natalia picked up her glass of wine from the bar. “Silja is not ready to attend our little soiree yet. She hasn’t been informed of my… financial situation.”

Ballard pulled a bracelet from his suit jacket. “Silja doesn’t like diamonds?” Natalia huffed at the sight of the bracelet that she thought she had convinced Silja to keep. He continued, “She had this returned to me by messenger this afternoon. Doesn’t she…don’t you understand just how wealthy I am?”

Natalia took a sip of her cabernet. “She still believes in love, Ballard—“

“I am in love with her!” he bellowed.

Taken aback by the sudden outburst, the crowd hushed, looking in their direction. Natalia forced a laugh, waving her hands carelessly at the crowd. She spoke to them in Russian, “Mingle, mingle, get to know our beautiful dancers.” With hesitant glances at Ballard, the crowd returned to their conversations. The women in attendance ran their hands up and down the male dancers’ muscled arms, while the men flirted mercilessly with the ballerinas.

“You told me that she would be here tonight, Natalia.” Ballard said, more hushed.

“As always, there are plenty of lovely ballerinas here to choose from this evening, Ballard. Forget Silja for now. I will keep working to make her come around. She still… how do you say… pines for another.”

“Who?”

“I do not know this. Be patient. Pick another for this evening. Here…” Natalia gestured to the bartender. He retrieved a box from behind the bar. Natalia took the box and offered it to Ballard. Lifting a brow, she said, “You may have first pick tonight, yes?”

“No. I am tired of spending time with ballerinas that I don’t want. I only fantasize that she is Silja. I want Silja!” Ballard said.

Natalia set the box on the bar. Slowly she dragged her gaze to meet his. He was like a spoiled child who had not received the gift that he desired on Christmas morning. No, he was worse—much worse. Finally she decided to put Ballard Crafton in his place. “I am quite aware of what it is that you want, Ballard. But I must wonder…will Silja meet the same fate as your other lovers?” His eyes widened in raw indignation, except Natalia did not allow his glare to dissuade her. “The opera singer from New York who no longer sings—instead she sits in a home with head injuries so severe that she can barely speak, or the concert pianist whose fingers are now crippled from the hammer that was used on them? What could these women have done to make you so angry, Ballard? What kind of monster lies within? I am desperate to save The Novikov Ballet Company, this is true. But I won’t let you destroy a beautiful dancer in her prime. How do you Americans say…we understand each other, yes?”

Ballard’s hands curled into fists of righteous agitation. The red flush started above the Armani tie that he wore around his neck and crept to his cheeks. He spun on his heels and marched out of the gathering.

Letting out a relieved breath, Natalia looked into the box which was filled with pointe shoes. Each shoe had the signature of the dancer from the Novikov Company to whom it had belonged. Her nerves tightened the knot in her stomach and shame swelled in her chest. She took another long drink of the wine, and then she managed a faux smile for the crowd, who anxiously anticipated the beginning of the evening’s event.

Natalia called out in Russian, “Who will be first to choose a pair of shoes tonight?” She held the box up high, shaking it. “Edvar! Where is Edvar?”

From the far corner of the room the ballet company’s dance instructor and choreographer, Edvar Kozlovski, brushed his fingers through ballet dancer Dominik Potrovic’s hair. After a whispered promise of return, he raised his hand calling back in their native Russian, “Here I am! Are you ready, Natalia?”

The crowd buzzed with excitement. The dancers exchanged nervous glances. All eyes were on Natalia. She said, “Yes! Who is our highest bidder this evening? Who will get first pick of the shoes?”

Edvar fished a paper from the pocket of his jacket, and then he announced, “Ballard Crafton!”

Everyone searched the room waiting for Ballard to come forward to choose a shoe for his evening of sultry delight, with the ballerina whose name was on the shoe.

Natalia shook her head. “No. He had to leave. Who is the second?”

Edvar squinted in a big show of reading the next name on the list. He proclaimed, “Belsky!”

From the back of the crowd, a tubby man merrily trotted forward to where Natalia stood. He could barely contain his excitement. He danced in place from one foot to the other. The ballerinas were now exchanging curled lips of derision hoping that he would not pull their shoe from the box.

He wiggled his fingers in anticipation of what lovely, well-toned ballerina would be his for the night. Belsky reached into the box and snatched a pair of worn European pink pointe shoes. The crowd tensed waiting for a name to be called as he handed the shoe to Natalia.

“Anna Antkowiak!” Natalia called out. The young girl from Poland shoulders drooped. Her face dropped. She was the newest member of the company. She hadn’t signed on for this. She had heard whispers among the dancers that Natalia’s ballet company was almost broke and about the after-performance requirements: prostituting the dancers for contributions to keep the ballet company above water. Tonight was her fist time to be summoned by Natalia to the contributors’ party. She could barely breathe as she watched Belsky’s eyes scanning the crowd for her.

Locking eyes with the innocent girl, Natalia crooked her index finger at the ballerina to come forward to claim her date. Trepidation filled Anna’s face. Her stomach twisted into a tangle of knots as she looked at the other dancers, who silently urged her to do as Natalia requested. When Anna suddenly noticed the bulge in Belsky’s trousers, she kept her head bowed, as she slowly crept through the crowd. Belsky grabbed her by the hand to hurry her out the door.

Natalia clapped her hands. “Another happy contributor to the Novikov Ballet Company! I’m sure Anna will make his night!” She shook the box again. “Who will be next to choose, Edvar?”

 

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Book Spotlight: Napoleon by Emilia Rutigliano

Napoleon 7Title: Napoleon
Genre: Women’s Fiction with an Attitude
Author: Emilia Rutigliano
Publisher: Emilia Rutigliano
Pages: 387
Language: English
Format: Kindle

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They say that when a student is ready, a teacher appears.
What they don’t say is where to register, and how to matriculate in that teacher’s class.
That is a divine gift.
Veronica had it all:  the looks; the brains; the personality; and the wardrobe.  Not to mention a perfect husband, a fabulous career and two adorable children, until the perfect husband leaves her for another woman.
Thus begin the daily routines of a typical New York City immigrant with ambition whose teachers keep appearing, and for whom divine interventions keep affording new opportunities.
Though it starts like ordinary connections going through the tried and true, each relationship continues to delve into parts of her own universe that Veronica didn’t know existed.  A universe that is suddenly open to her.
This is a different kind of heroine…
Welcome to the New American Dream, Dare to Dream…

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Wifey by Fey Ugokwe

WifeyTitle: Wifey
Author: Fey Ugokwe
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Pink Purse International
Pages: 154
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0615764908
ISBN-13: 978-0615764900

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When life as a curiously paired, young married couple in California–in the midst of a growing state and national economic crisis–becomes literally unworkable, Rodney, an earnestly toiling, playboy of a husband, unilaterally determines that he and P.V., his ambitious but naive, exotic wife, should relocate to Texas. So P.V., a struggling sophomore realtor and avid foodie, and Rodney, a newly unemployed marketer and sports addict, sell virtually everything they own and embark upon a downsized existence in the heart of North Texas–Dallas. But an eerie and horrifying morning dream that P.V. previously experienced becomes a dark and ever-unfurling, pain-filled prophesy that ultimately threatens the very foundations of their humanity. Sex, depravity, despair, and an uneven pavement of good intentions lead to a black, one-way road with a shocking and hair-raising end.

Book Excerpt:

But then one day, unexpectedly, the sun rose sweepingly black upon the state—and it wasn’t the only one—and they awoke to find themselves holding onto nothing but what was standing in three dimensions, and what little they had jointly saved. They had eagerly spent—as if single college co-eds—without much store-housing, always encouraged by the reality that together, they could easily generate sufficient and more. So, in the fresh darkness, their carefree, economic togetherness began to crack, splinter, web. It all started when on a Monday, Rodney’s bosses assigned him to train a new marketing team member from their New York office, and then summarily that Friday, swiftly laid him—and his entire marketing unit—off, except for the one employee he had been forced to mentor. The fragmenting downspiral continued with P.V. realizing that the once flock of eager, wild-eyed buyers had run, scattering well deep, into hiding. Accordingly, she helplessly—an additionally, inexperienced one—watched as her real estate-for-sale listings inventory rolled and aging sat, month after nail-biting month. Resultantly, for income, the two began to snatch away anxiously at the rest of their dwindling, pea-sized savings, and at the vapors of P.V.’s plummeting realtor commissions.

Suddenly, the two together were thinking older, living older—too much older than their individual years. They began redefining the meaning of frills, and withholding those like penny-pinching pensioners, things they once thought of as basics, that they used to, in better times, allow themselves without blinking. And so, they were struggling to maintain no longer the burgeoning, middle income luxe that they had begun to build, but dearly, just the very safe that they had at least, once been. Yet, somehow, the very last to be redefined—to go—were Rodney’s expensive man-crew weekends away to revel, and the first to be jettisoned, long before the redefining, P.V.’s buffering girlfriend trips to cook and soothingly dine. And then one day, in the choking grit and dust wake of it all, for the first time—inclusive of the days of their respective singlehoods—they were broke, miserable, and officially stuck with someone. They were left id-minded, like runaway children caught up in a typhoon at blind-side—force-dragged into an undertowing cycle downward and downward still, eyes squeezed shut intermittently and little arms looped, each round the other’s, league by league in the under together.

*********

Rodney awoke with a jolting, eyes-up-open-in-a-flash, start. It was as if a hypnotist had bid him loudly, firmly to wake up—snapping fingers together with an equal harsh force, to facilitate his return to full reason. His eyes were the only part of him that first moved, and he let them do the work as he lay there—rest of body static—by increments perceiving, breathing in the morn. Yellow-white rays of California sun were just beginning to stream slightly in through the luxe, half-slanted open, teal linen blinds. They shifted to illuminate too, the lower tips of the matching, clean-lines-contemporary window treatments that neatly boxed both windows. At an angle out like a tipping domino, the elongated shadow of the window loomed on the pristine—and real—white oak floorboards. Rodney twisted slightly to ease a twinge of pain, the minor injury a result of having slipped and almost fallen the night before, on the pristine, white and grey marble tiles that paved his and P.V.’s master bathroom. P.V. was a heavy head to his chest, her mass of black, medium-length, hot-curled hair almost neatly contained in the crook of his elbow. She was still breathing in the realm of sleep, but her little body was tossing and gesturing at intervals, as if walking and acting in that unseen world. And at that very moment, in fact, forever unbeknownst to him, P.V. was indeed dreaming—of Nani.

In the dream, Nani appeared physically as her normal self: she was a beautiful—almost brown—bent-forward-midway-at-the-waist and thin, but wide-bodied, woman. Her parabolic bearing always made her seem as if she were perpetually giving salaam, a condition caused by her incorrigibly poor posture as a girl, and the late stages of osteoporosis in her end years. Her smooth, black hair was parted in the middle, and streaked with coarser, fly-away strands of white, all disappearing into a long braid that peeked out again near her waist. She was standing in Trinidad, outside P.V.’s parent’s first home together, in an alcove portion off the veranda that was sheltered by the low, Spanish-tiled roof of the house. In the distance, P.V. could see the blanched sands of the beach, and the sparkling, green-blue waters rolling and retreating on its thin lip. But Nani was oddly barefoot—and alarmingly sheathed from top to bottom in a white sheet that was wound about her body in sections, as if on a mummy. She was muttering and curved over a roti flat pan and board, spindly fingers slightly floured and glistening from the oil mix. One roti was already sizzling on the flat pan, and to her left, there was a large, white china plate with a royal blue pattern, heaped high with all that she had previously cooked.

The sky suddenly darkened into a night, with a large, spinning patch of daylight in the distance—and bright, rich, almost blindingly deep-blue flowers began to fall out of the air to everywhere. The blooms, each as if clovers springing out their vivid blossoms from a single stalk, dropped on top of Nani’s head and onto her shoulders, immediately bouncing off on impact to the area around her. And they fell onto the food and preparation table, sticking into the mixing bowl containing the remainder dough, and blanketed the entire surface of the ground and tiled veranda floor. One huge stalk fell violently and lodged behind Nani’s ear, its tip caught in her hooped, gold earring.

And Nani seemed to abruptly become aware of P.V’s presence—whipping about sideways to face her, straightening completely up from the waist as would have been impossible for her, braid jerking to and fro with the immediacy of the motion. In her right hand was the stack of roti, topped with the new roti that had been in the pan—which was still gleaming—a flaky, beckoning nourishment, slightly charred and golden in spots. And grunting, face ashen and gaunt, she extended the breads to P.V., wrinkled right hand shaking out an urgency for her to take them. But when P.V. reached for that right hand, Nani moaned and extended her left, which—flesh inexplicably missing in parts—began to gush a dark red blood, thick from the palm and up over like discovered crude oil, from deep within its center.

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Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow on Sale During October!

The story of “Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow” takes us on the journey she travels to figure out how to get the cows at a new farm to like and accept her.

While she hopes to find friendship at her new home, instead she learns what it means to be different from everyone else. (Spotless!) Mary Elizabeth uses clever ideas and a sense of humor to help her on her quest for friends at the new farm.

This inspiring tale shows how perseverance in spite of obstacles, using a sound thought process to arrive at solutions and the importance of having fun, using humor and enjoying playtime can build friendships.

When you buy this book, 50% of net proceeds go to Phoenix Children’s Hospital Child Life Program to make a difference in the lives of children with critical and life threatening illnesses.

Excerpt: 

Once upon a time……..there was a farm in Ohio with lots of Cows. They all had many spots to be proud of. One day a truck pulled into the farm. The back door opened and out came a new Cow. The other Cows were so excited to have a new friend!

But as the new Cow came out of the truck the other Cows looked on in shock!!! “Oh My! What on Earth?!”

It seems the new Cow, whose name was Mary Elizabeth, had no spots!

“Where are your spots??!!” Demanded the Cow called Anna Belle.

“I don’t have any spots. I was born spotless, you see.”

Well, Anna Belle and the other Cows were horrified.

(Not mad, you had to be very careful about mad)


Purchasing information: During the month of October, purchase Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow from the Sweetles website for only $12.00 (List price: $17.99). When you buy this book, 50% of net proceeds go to Phoenix Children’s Hospital Child Life Program. Visit http://www.sweetles.com/product/books/mary-elizabeth-the-spotless-cow-book/ for more information.

Sal is the author and illustrator of “A Sweetles Dream”® book series. As the Creative Director for Hartman-Barbera llc, a family media & entertainment company, he is also an animator, sculptor, painter and all around fun guy. Sal lives the phrase: “A day without laughter is a wasted day”. To that end, he uses his writing, illustrating and animation skills to create endearing characters and comedic stories.

Sal’s sense of humor and empathy for his characters explore personal and social situations in ways that makes it enjoyable for both adults and children to experience together. Born in New York City, Sal moved to North Bergen, NJ where he grew up on a steep hillside neighborhood with his four older sisters. He currently lives in sunny Arizona with his wife and artistic partner, Sheri, who he defines as his inspiration. On any given day Sal might be painting, sculpting, drawing, animating, writing or enjoying one of his favorite pastimes: cooking, television, movies and golf.

Visit Sal Barbera’s website at http://www.salbarbera.com.

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Buzz Bernard has the right stuff when it comes to hurricanes

With the hurricane season fast approaching and living on an island off the east coast of Virginia, I’m terrified that one day I’m going to be scrambling for my life.  I can’t swim either.  We’ve really been lucky the last four years we’ve been here, but I know we can never be completely confident those terrifying hurricane winds won’t slide up the east coast and completely swallow us up.  We on Chincoteague just do a lot of good old fashion praying.

But I wanted to tell you about a terrific book that’s on tour with Pump Up Your Book this month and into next month.

It’s called Eyewall and the talented creator of the book just so happens to once be a veteran meteorologist who has spent 13 years as a senior meteorologist with The Weather Channel and 33 years as a weather officer in the U.S. Air Force.  He’s had first-hand experience with hurricanes, having penetrated the eyewall of Hurricane Felix in 1995 with the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters.   The mission he went on wasn’t nearly as exciting–or as terrifying–as the one described in Eyewall, but he did get an up-close and personal look at how the job is done.  At The Weather Channel, he worked closely with some of the most highly regarded hurricane forecasters in the business.

His name is H.W. Bernard, but we all call him  Buzz.

Besides his trip with the Hurricane Hunters, Buzz has  flown air drops over the Arctic Ocean and Turkey, and was a weather officer aboard a Tactical Air Command airborne command post (C-135).  Additionally, he’s provided field support to forest fire fighting operations in the Pacific Northwest, spent a summer working on Alaska’s arctic slope and served two tours in Vietnam.  Various other jobs, both civilian and military, took him to Germany, Saudi Arabia and Panama.

This. Guy. Knows. His. Stuff.

Eyewall takes you on a dramatic ride into the eye of a major hurricane and the lives of the people who challenge it. Major Arlen Walker is on his final mission with the Air Force Hurricane Hunters. As commander of a WC-130, he’s been tasked to recon Hurricane Janet just off the Georgia coast On paper, the flight looks like a milk run. In reality, it turns out to be anything but. Walker, having been briefed that the hurricane is weak, penetrates the storm hat low altitude. Too late, he realizes Janet has turned savage and that he’s chosen a death wish flight level. The hurricane pummels the plane. The aircraft, spewing fuel, limps into the calm eye but is so severely damaged, Walker cannot fly it out. He and his crew are trapped in the center of a catastrophic storm as it swirls toward the mainland.

Whew, that really makes you yearn for hurricane season, doesn’t it?

Watch his exciting book trailer for Eyewall:

This is a terrific book and one you don’t want to miss, even though it will scare the pants off you!  Exciting, mind-blowing and unbelievable.

You can visit Buzz Bernard’s website at www.buzzbernard.com for more information or visit Eyewall’s official Facebook fan page here!

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Every Boat Turns South: memoir like adventure with moving coming-home tale

Every Boat Turns South mixes memoir-like adventure with a moving coming-home tale. The book opens and closes in Florida, but its sultry and terror-filled center is set in the Turks & Caicos Islands and in the Dominican Republic. By interweaving the Florida bedside scenes with Matt’s confessional account of his wild life in the Caribbean, White subtly builds sympathy for his ne er-do-well drifter, as Matt slowly reveals the truth about Hale by coming to understand his own impulses and needs and by cherishing, through memory, all that his father had taught him. The writing in both sections forcefully lyrical and full of maritime detail (sailors will love this book) suggests an autobiographical prompt, but clearly the author is in command of a style that effectively serves his complex plot. The flashbacks pulse with sensuality, the take on island natives and tourists is nothing less than superb: The hotel swarms with interracial couples strung together like rosary beads . . . white women, pale as chalk, lean into black men like they ve found the Rosetta stone. White men pull at strings of mulatto women like taffy. Meringue and rum, greed and sex rule. Everything. Everyone. As one of the novel s shrewd and exotic characters says, we all have our weaknesses once we get to the islands.

This is the exciting premise of author J.P. White’s new mystery novel, Every Boat Turns South (The Permanent Press).

In the last 35 years, J.P. White has published essays, articles, fiction, reviews, interviews and poetry in over a hundred publications including The Nation, The New Republic, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Gettysburg Review, American Poetry Review, and Poetry (Chicago).  He is a graduate of New College in Sarasota, Florida, Colorado State University and Vermont College in Fine Arts. He is the author of five books of poems and a novel, Every Boat Turns South.

J.P. will be on virtual book tour May 3 – June 25. Visit his official tour page at Pump Up Your Book to find out more about his exciting new book, Every Boat Turns South.

Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.com are the best way to obtain your copies, although it will be available to order in most bookstores. You can visit J.P.’s website at www.jpwhite.net for more information about the book.

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Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting!: Robert Boich’s personal road to recovery

Title: Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting!
Author: Robert Boich
Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: iUniverse
Language: English
ISBN-1440121079
ISBN-13: 978-1440121074

Making a resolution to address an alcohol or substance abuse issue is only the beginning. The real work begins when the alcoholic or addict acknowledges that something has to be done. As one counselor put it, “An addict only has to change one thing: everything.” More than mere abstinence or simply eliminating certain people and places from one’s daily routine, a successful recovery requires a brand-new approach in dealing with life. In this compelling, intimate narrative, Boich shares his struggles, and insights encountered during his first six months in recovery.

Excerpt

One of the first things I learned was that I was looking at things backwards; fix my substance abuse problems, and my life would fix itself. It seemed to make sense at the time. It goes back to the abstinence versus sobriety issue I mentioned earlier. It’s true, abstinence, definitely improved my life. I could see a difference in myself after a couple of weeks. The problem with this approach is that I was still the same person. I had to look at the bigger picture. One of my new friends explained it to me like this. “The man I was drank. The man I was will drink again. I have to change the man.” That statement echoed the sentiments of one of my counselors, the same one who encouraged me to write this book. He told me that in order to stay sober, I only had to change one thing. Everything!

Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting! is available to order at Amazon. To find out more about Robert, visit his website at www.rwboich.com. Robert is available for interviews. Email Dorothy Thompson at thewriterslife(at)yahoo.com to inquire.

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