Book Tour: Where are we tomorrow?

Welcome to the blog tour for award-winning novel, Where Are We Tomorrow by Tavi Taylor Black! Read on for more info and a chance to win a $25 Amazon e-Gift Card!

Where We Are Tomorrow

Publication Date: May 31st, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction

Publisher: TouchPoint Press

Alex Evans, a thirty-six year old touring electrician, discovers through an accidental pregnancy and then the pain of miscarriage that she truly wants a family. But to attempt another pregnancy, she’ll have to change both her career and her relationship; her partner Connor, ten years her senior, isn’t prepared to become a father again.

When Alex is implicated in an accident involving the female pop star she works for, she and three other women on tour rent a house together in Tuscany. While the tour regroups, confessions are made, secrets are spilled: the guitar tech conceals a forbidden love, the production assistant’s ambition knows no limits, and the personal assistant battles mental issues.

Through arguments and accidents, combating drug use and religion, the women help each other look back on the choices they’ve made, eventually buoying each other, offering up strength to face tough decisions ahead.

TRIGGER WARNING: MISCARRIAGE/ ADDICTION/ GRIEF 

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Excerpt

Inside the concrete arena, programmed lights whirred and spun in rhythm; eleven thousand fans watched, mesmerized, as vibrant magenta and violet beams sliced through midnight black. On stage, the band regurgitated the same set as the night before, and the night before that. They’d performed the set in Mexico City and Guadalajara. As far south as Santiago and Lima. The road crew for Sadie Estrada’s Home Remedy tour knew each dip in volume, each drop in the beat. They knew exactly, down to the second, how much time it required to step outside and suck down a Marlboro. These time-zone travelers planned bathroom breaks by the songs’ measures; no one missed a cue to mute the stage mics, to hand out room-temp bottled water for set breaks, to pull up house lights.

Behind heavy velvet curtains, separated from the frenzied pace of the show, Alex unscrewed the cover of a moving light to expose the core: circuit boards and capacitors, motors connected to color wheels. Deep bass, feedback, and the fevered pitch of collective voices penetrated the curtain, the familiar, almost comforting reverberations of life on the road. Alex continued her diagnosis, removing the light harness as a mother removes a soiled diaper— routinely, with a touch of tenderness. While she located and replaced the broken part, she kept an ear to the music, alert to the final measure of the set, ready to repack her multi-wheeled toolbox, move on to the next city, set up again.

Alex ran the light through all its functions, testing and retesting once she’d replaced the gobo wheel. The body of the light panned and tilted, working fine. A small victory.

“Sure you know what you’re doing, little lady?” Alex turned at the familiar voice of the tour’s production manager.

“Funny,” she said. “Very original. For that, you get to help me put it away.” Alex waited for another barb, one about her not being able to lift the seventy pounds by herself, but Joe simply helped her flip and crate the unit, a harder task for him at 5’2” than it was for Alex, a good five inches taller.

The arena crackled in anticipation of the show’s climax. Thousands of voices swelled and surged, a unified congregation. The body of the moving light settled into the carved Styrofoam, and Alex tucked its tail inside the handle. As she slammed the case shut, Joe’s laminate got caught inside the box, and he was jerked down by the lanyard around his neck. He freed the latches and yanked it clear, smoothing the wrinkles from the photo of his two young children, a wallet-sized clipping he’d taped behind his backstage pass. Joe caught Alex eyeing the photo.

“When are you gonna give in and pop out a few yourself?” Joe asked.

Alex breathed slowly, letting a brief sadness settle into her body, though her face wore a practiced, blank expression. She gestured into the smothering dark, into the roar of the crowd and sweat-filled air. “And give up all this?”

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About the Author

Tavi Black lives on an island near Seattle where she designs sets for the ballet, works as the tour manager for a musical mantra group, and has founded an anti-domestic violence non-profit organization. Before earning an MFA from Lesley University, Tavi spent 14 years touring with rock bands. Several of Tavi’s short stories have been shortlisted for prizes, including Aesthetica Magazine’s Competition, and the Donald Barthelme Prize for Short Prose.

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Book Blitz! Dog Park

How cute is this book! Read on for more info about Dog Park by Kathryn Kazoleas!

Dog Park

Publication Date: May 30th, 2021

Genre: Middle Grade/ Chapter Book

Gibson the labradoodle is about to begin her first day of training to become a dog park ambassador, something she has been dreaming about her entire life. Dog park ambassadors hold a very high honour within the dog park community and have many important roles to make sure the dog park is a fun and safe place to be. She has so many great ideas and cannot wait to get started.

While Gibson is training alongside lead ambassador and trainer, Meistro the bulldog, things don’t go as planned. Gibson meets challenge after challenge and isn’t allowed to introduce any of her new ideas. Being a dog park ambassador isn’t what she thought it would be so she starts to question whether the role is really for her.

At the end of her very first training shift, and just as she’s about to give up and tell Meistro she isn’t cut out to be a dog park ambassador after all, there’s an emergency at the river. One of the dog park’s new puppies, Clover, has swam too far out and cannot get back to shore. Gibson’s best friend and greatest supporter Stretch the dachshund, convinces her she has to go help. Gibson springs into action, with Stretch at her side and encouraging her the entire time. Gibson saves the day…almost!

Having been swept downstream and far away from the dog park, Gibson is forced to lead the trio back to safety. There’s only one way back and it’s through a dark forest with strange sounds and smells. The sun is starting to go down and everybody is tired and scared. But, Gibson knows she has to get her friends back home, despite what, or who, gets in her way.

Excerpt

Tyler didn’t know it, but today was an important day and one that she had been looking forward to for a very long time. Each week, the regular pack at the dog park delegated a dog park ambassador. It was a job that held a very high honour within the dog park community.  Dog park ambassadors were to make sure all the dogs at the park got along, and that all the humans felt welcomed so they would bring their dogs back. As ambassadors, they were to intervene in any disagreements between dogs, explain the rules to the new dogs and puppies, and were to greet the humans to welcome them to the park.

Gibson had been asking to get involved for months now, but the committee always told her they didn’t need any more ambassadors. But finally, her persistence paid off and they agreed to let her start training. Today was her first day.

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About the Author

Kathryn is from Alberta, Canada where she lives with her dog Koa and her cat Keeva. In her free time, she can be found playing ball with Koa, enjoying the outdoors, reading or writing.

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Book Tour! The Awakening of Artemis

There’s a new book coming out this month and if you enjoy science or speculative fiction, you’re going to love it! Check out The Awakening of Artemis by John Calia!

The Awakening of Artemis

Expected Publication Date: September 29th, 2021

Genre: Science Fiction/ Speculative Fiction

Orphaned by war and disillusioned about her life, Diana Gutierrez-Adams is on a routine military assignment when she and her team are kidnapped by a domestic militia. She learns from her captors that her cryogenically-frozen grandfather is at the center of a high-stakes plan to steal technology that will change the world for greed and great fortune.

Challenged by the conspiracy and pulled by emotions she doesn’t fully understand, Diana’s rescue mission will change her life. What happens to her is unexpected, perhaps miraculous – an adventure that embraces all her hopes for finding her true self and her place in a world dominated by powerful elites and even more powerful artificial intelligence.

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Excerpt

Diana knew that everyone who lived in the pods as well as anyone officially connected to the government had an embedded chip that enabled monitoring technology to identify where every individual was at any time. The chips also measured the secretion of enzymes and hormones. Algorithms had been developed to predict everyone’s wants and needs based upon those secretions. Over time, the algorithms learned from human response and adjusted their predictions accordingly – without human intervention.

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About the Author

A Brooklyn-born, second generation American and the eldest of three boys, writing is his third career and the one about which he is most passionate. Following graduation from the US Naval Academy and active duty in the Navy, he embarked on a career in business. He began writing his blog “Who Will Lead?” in 2010 attracting over 115,000 readers. It inspired him to write his first book, an Amazon five-star rated business fable titled “The Reluctant CEO.” Currently he makes his home in Fairport, NY, a village on the Erie Canal.

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Book Tour! The Shepherd’s Burden

Welcome to the book tour for award-winning novel, The Shepherd’s Burden by Ryan Young. Read on for more info and a chance to win a signed copy of the book (North America) or a digital edition if you’re international!

The Shepherd’s Burden

Publication Date: June 18th, 2020

Genre: Paranormal Thriller

1st Place Winner, 2020 Chanticleer International Book Awards, Paranormal Awards for Supernatural Fiction Category

Staff Sergeant Daniel Jefferies has returned home to upstate NY after nearly being killed in an ambush in Iraq. Plagued by the trauma of war, he struggles to find his place in a world that he no longer recognizes. He feels disconnected from his family and friends. But, none of his burdens are heavier than the terrifying secret that he has kept about a mysterious encounter from his youth. When a suspicious murder occurs, he will discover that he has been chosen for a purpose that transcends life and death, forcing him to confront his past. In order to stop the killer, he will have to make choices that will change the fate of the people he loves the most. Can Daniel summon the strength of mind and body, that he once had as a soldier, to face the most profound and consequential challenge of his life?

Excerpt

Daniel took the main route out of town. It took them through the city center and back to the site of Nella’s murder. As they approached the site, they saw a man and his young son crossing the road with their donkey. The donkey was towing a wooden cart full of produce. There was an open-air market in the city center. People traveled there to sell their goods. For many of them, it was their only source of income. The boy was four or five years old and the cart was fully loaded, so they were moving slowly. Daniel pulled to a complete stop to allow them to cross. 

“Keep an eye out,” Keith yelled up to Aashirya. 

It was always dangerous to be stopped in the middle of a road in Iraq. Instead of the vehicle being a moving target, which could be hard to hit, it became a stationary target, which was much easier to hit. The chances of an ambush greatly increased.

It was Keith’s job to keep his team on alert, but the heightened state of awareness didn’t change his demeanor. He was perfectly calm. He pulled out another cigarette and lit it while they waited for the man and his son to cross the road. He offered one to Daniel, but he turned it down.

“I can’t understand how nothing seems to bother you. I’ve been doing this just as long as you have. No matter how many times I’m out here, I still get nervous. I wish I knew your secret,” Daniel said.

Keith laughed it off.

“There is no secret, Danny. I told you before, nothing lasts forever. Everyone dies at some point. It’s a foregone conclusion. It’s not a question of if, but when. What’s the difference if we die now or fifty years from now? We shouldn’t fear death. We should embrace it.”

“I think you have been out here too long. You are really starting to trip me out. I think you need a long nap and a cold beer. After that, you need to get laid and seriously rethink that no-fear, embrace death bullshit. Personally, I would much rather be afraid and alive than calm and dead.”

Daniel turned his attention back towards the road. The man and his son were now directly in front of the vehicle. The boy stopped walking and turned to look at him. When they made eye contact, Daniel got an eerie feeling that something was wrong. Before he could react, a large explosion went off underneath the Humvee. The blast tossed the vehicle fifteen feet into the air, landing it on its side. 

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About the Author

Ryan Young is a former Army Captain and Iraq War Veteran. He is a lover of all things fantasy and sci-fi. A native of Utica, NY, he now calls New England home.

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New Book Coming!

To celebrate the release of The Storm of Storms, book #3 in her YA Dystopian saga, Juche, Adria Carmichael is giving the first two installments away for FREE! From September 14th to the 18th, you can download The Demon of Yodok and The Weeping Masses on Amazon for zero dollars! 

The Storm of Storms (Juche #3)

Publication Date: September 15th, 2021

Genre: YA Dystopian/ Survival

A highly addictive Young Adult Dystopian Survival Saga that will keep you glued to the pages.

Nari’s shocking revelation in the watermill changes everything in an instant, and Areum is once more faced with an impossible decision. Will she betray her sister in order to save her life, or support her and let her die? In the midst of this struggle, the storm of the century hits the camp, and life goes from hard to impossible overnight. Areum slowly comes to realize there is only one way to ensure their survival.

To escape!

But how can they escape from an escape-proof prison camp? And even if they would get past the ferocious dog patrols, the machine gun-equipped guard towers and the electrified barbed wire fence… will she be willing to condemn everyone they’re leaving behind to an inescapable end through torture and death?

Amazon

The Demon of Yodok (Juche #1)

JUCHE [dʒuːtʃe]

Just when Areum, daughter of a privileged family in the totalitarian state of Choson, thought she was free from her personal prison, her world collapses around her as her family are taken away in the middle of the night to a hell-like camp in the mountains where people who have strayed from the righteous path are brutally re-educated through blood, sweat, tears and starvation.

There she has to fight for survival together with the family she hates and is forced to re-evaluate every aspect of her life until then – her deep resentment toward her twin sister; her view of her father in face of the mounting evidence he is a traitor with the blood of millions of fellow countrymen on his hands; and even her love and affection for the Great General – the eternal savior and protector of Choson, whom she had always considered her true father.

Amazon

The Weeping Masses (Juche #2)

Areum’s hopes to be set free from the brutal political prison camp holding them is crushed, and the heinous assault on her sister plunges her into a state of shock and horror… and puts her on a collision course with her family. All hope seems to be lost. Just when she is about to give up, however, a disturbing revelation is made… and as the evil of the camp is given a face, Areum finds a new purpose to keep fighting.

Revenge!

But first they need to survive, and with the constantly harshening conditions and her family being targeted from all directions, daily life in Yodok turns into a never-ceasing fight to evade imminent doom.

On top of everything, an impossible tragedy strikes Choson, and the unquestionable truth Areum has built her life around is challenged to its very core.

Amazon

About the Author

Adria Carmichael is a writer of Young Adult Dystopian fiction with a twist. When she is not devouring dystopian and post-apocalyptic content in any format – books, movies, TV-series and PlayStation games – she is crafting the epic and highly-addictive Juche saga, her 2020 debut novel series that takes place in the brutal, totalitarian nation of Choson. When the limit of doom and gloom is reached, a 10K run on a sunny day or binging a silly sitcom on a rainy day is her go-to way to unwind.

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New Book!

3

I would buy this book based on the cover alone! Check out The Orchid Farmer’s Sacrifice by Fred Yu!

The Orchid Farmer’s Sacrifice (The Red Crest Series #1)

Expected Publication Date: October 5th, 2021

Genre: Asian Fantasy/ Epic Fantasy

He was born of prophecy. If he can’t embrace his destiny in time, his country is doomed.

Ancient China. Spoiled and overconfident, eighteen-year-old Mu Feng relishes life as the son of an honored general. But when his sister is abducted and his friends slaughtered, he flees home. He soon discovers the mystical birthmark on his body has attracted an enormous price on his head.

Pursued across the Middle Kingdom, Feng finds allies in two fierce warriors and a beautiful assassin. When he learns his ultimate enemy plans an incursion with advanced weaponry, he must call on his friends and his own budding military genius to defend his country. His plan is desperate, and the enemy outnumbers him twenty-five to one…

Can Feng fulfill a duty he didn’t know he had and unite the empire against a terrifying force?

Coming Soon!

Chapter One

Mu Feng woke to the call of a rooster, unsure where he was. He was staring into an empty flask flipped over and wedged against a stack of plates.

He pulled his silk robes tighter around his body. This was not his bed. His body lay bent and twisted against the hard edge of a wooden table, and his face was soaked from sleeping in a puddle of spilled liquor all night. He supported himself on one elbow to stretch his sore hip.

His three friends were still asleep, two of them snoring on the floor and another sprawled on a narrow bench, his arms and legs dangling.

Vague memories of the night before brought a smile to Feng’s lips—drinking, eating, and playing dice deep into the night. Empty flasks were scattered everywhere. Two large buckets of water remained half full.

Feng flinched against the dull pain at the base of his skull. He rubbed his oversized forehead and reached for a bowl. He hadn’t drunk enough water, and now the headache would nag him all day.

He sat back and gulped down the water, one bowl after another, and then paused to take a deep breath. He remembered coming to the Rider’s Inn with three of his best friends last night. The first floor of the little inn was packed. There were no rooms left upstairs, and the innkeeper was going to ask one of his customers to find somewhere else to stay because the general’s son, Mu Feng, needed a place to sleep.

Feng assured the innkeeper he would be drinking all night and didn’t need a room.

He remembered the innkeeper bringing him the very best drink they had to offer, a liquor made from sorghum buried in the ground for thirty years. It was something so exquisite only a Tiger General’s son could afford it. Feng remembered sipping the liquor and commenting that the taste resembled an onrush of invading cavalry, the sound of a thousand war drums approaching until it became thunder, then breezed by to leave an exhaustive state of calm. One of his friends laughed and told him to get drunk.

Feng needed to hurry home. The ride back would not be long—only a trip through a small forest. But he was to train his father’s pike unit that morning, and it wouldn’t look good for the instructor to arrive late.

The front door had been left open, and a little boy, his face filthy and his clothes in tatters, stood outside.

The boy’s a beggar and wants something to eat, Feng thought. He took a piece of copper from his pocket and stumbled to the door. The boy inched back, leaning away as if preparing himself to run.

Feng placed the coin on the table closest to the entrance. “Here, kid. Get yourself some food.”

Ding, facedown on a bench only a moment ago, was already on his feet.

“We need to go,” Feng said. “I can send a servant later to pay the innkeeper.”

“You must have paid him four times already,” Ding said. He planted a sharp kick into one of his friends on the floor and squatted down to scream in his ear. “Get up, Wen!”

He proceeded to the next drunk, curled under a table and still snoring, and kicked him in the ribs. “Get up, Little Chu. Feng needs to go home.”

Little Chu groaned. He lifted his head, his eyes still closed. “I don’t want any breakfast.”

“You’re not getting any,” Feng said with a laugh. “But there’s plenty of water in that bucket.”

Ding headed for the door, his long sword dangling by his side. “I’ll get the horses ready.” He stopped by the table near the entrance. “Who left the coin here?”

“It’s for the kid,” Feng said, turning and pointing outside. The boy was no longer there. Feng walked to the door and pulled it wide open for another look. “He was just here.”

Wen lumbered to his feet, towering over the others. “What boy?” he asked, his voice booming across the room. He hoisted a heavy bucket to his lips for a gulp or two, then poured the rest of the water over his head.

“A young beggar,” Feng said. “So many of those little things around here.”

Wen’s laughter thundered across the room. “See? Even a beggar knows he can’t take money from a dead man. You drank so much last night the boy thought you were a hungry ghost.”

“Shut your mouth,” Chu shouted, clapping Wen’s back with the hilt of his sword. Wen laughed even harder.

Ding returned, pulling the horses with one hand and carrying all four saddles with the other.

Feng stepped into the morning sun and took a deep breath. He reached for the harness of a gigantic warhorse, a gift from Uncle Shu this year for his eighteenth birthday. He stroked the nose of the charger, then the mane, and took the saddle. The horse reminded him every day that he was an adult, despite his boyish features and lanky arms, and he was commander of the best pike men in the world.

Little Chu turned back to the mess they were leaving behind—the empty bowls, the plates, and the overturned liquor flasks. “Too bad Du didn’t want to come last night. Since when did we ever go drinking without him?”

“He wanted to,” Ding said, “but he was vomiting and couldn’t get up. Must have been something he ate at the whorehouse.”

“He ate at a brothel?” Wen asked. “What kind of meat do they serve there?”

Ding turned to his friend with a smirk. “Why don’t you ever go to the whorehouse, Feng?”

Feng finished saddling his horse and leaped onto his charger. “Let’s go.”

“Feng’s father is a Tiger General,” Little Chu said. “He can get any girl he wants.” He guided his horse toward the road and squeezed its belly with his stirrups. The horse lurched forward.

“But then he’ll have to marry her!” Wen shouted from behind, hurrying after his friends. “I’d rather pay some money to amuse myself than be stuck with a wretch in my house.”

In a moment they were on the main road, riding at a comfortable pace. After a while the path bent into a forest and narrowed. The four friends merged behind one another, proceeding in single file. The dirt trail was an easy ride, well maintained and free of overhanging branches and intruding vegetation.

It was still early in the morning, and the ride home would be short. Feng relaxed a little, but not entirely. His father would be furious if he found out his son was too drunk to come home last night and couldn’t return in time to train his pike unit. He might even forbid Feng from leading his men again, a position Feng had to beg for over the years.

General Mu, Feng’s father and one of four Tiger Generals in the empire, was known as the General of the Uighur Border. He guarded the westernmost fortress in the empire. The portion of the Great Wall that he protected and the North Gate, which opened into the City of Stones, faced the land of the Uighur. It was the final stop on the Silk Road before entering the Middle Kingdom.

General Mu’s city was one of few fortresses built in a valley along the northern mountain chains. It was low enough to lose the advantage of elevation, which so much of the Great Wall depended on, but flat enough for travelers and barbarian traders to meet in this border city. Over the years General Mu had imposed heavy punishments on anyone harassing or discriminating against the foreigners, and despite countless skirmishes at the Great Wall, the City of Stones was never attacked in earnest. Commerce thrived at a time of heightened tensions between the Middle Kingdom and the barbarian nations. Chinese and Uighur, Khitans and Mongols assembled in the same bustling marketplace in the center of town and bartered. The city seemed oblivious to the politics of the Asian kingdoms.

The general placed his only son, Mu Feng, in command of the pike unit, but he was never permitted to confront the barbarians. The archers, the cavalry, and the anti-siege personnel were all deployed during border skirmishes with the Uighur.

Feng’s pike units were never battle-tested, and he never understood why. In military matters his father always sought his advice and often adopted his strategies. For years he studied The Art of War and every other military classic his father could access. In simulated battle, Feng had proven again and again he was capable. Yet, his father never trusted him in a real war.

Feng and his friends breezed along the narrow forest trail with Ding in front, Feng following from a short distance, and the other two in the rear.

Moments later, Feng noticed two rows of armed men standing in a line, motionless, blocking the road.

“Slow,” Feng said, loud enough only for his friends to hear. “Bandits.”

The foliage around them was dense with thick trees and low branches reaching into every empty space. It would be impossible to penetrate the forest and ride around the blockade.

Ding reined in his horse and slowed to a walk. “Small-time bandits trying to rob the general’s son. Wait till they find out who you are.”

Wen sent his horse lurching forward and stopped in front of the outlaws, so close he could have easily barreled into them. “Why are you blocking the road?”

None of them answered. They simply stared.

“If you don’t step aside, we’re going to run you over!” Wen said, his booming voice echoing through the forest.

 The armed thugs remained silent, motionless. Wen reached for his sword. Feng held out his hand, fingers outstretched, and motioned for him to stop.

“There’s only ten of them,” Little Chu said in a low voice. “And they’re on foot.”

“Get out of my way,” Feng said to the bandits, his voice loud and firm. “We’re military officials. We have important business in the City of Stones.”

A short bandit with a gray topknot broke into a smile. “Military officials,” he said, speaking slowly as if to pronounce every syllable. “Exactly what we’re waiting for.”

Feng stiffened. Soldiers earned modest salaries. They were well trained and armed, and very few of them traveled this road. For a small team of robbers to block the road, waiting for soldiers to rob, didn’t make any sense.

“One of our women was raped last night,” the short one continued.

Ding moved forward to Feng, his hand on his weapon, and whispered, “There’s more of them in the forest on both sides. Maybe a hundred.”

Feng nodded and turned back to the short bandit. “You’re not listening. Civilian crimes should be reported to the magistrate, not the army.”

“The criminal was a military official!” the thug shouted over Feng’s voice.

“I see,” Feng replied, fighting to remain calm. His heart was pounding.

His hand crept into his pocket to touch a bronze plate half the size of his palm, a token he always carried with himself. He still remembered the day so many years ago when he was afraid to climb onto a horse for the first time. He went to bed that night feeling disgraced and useless. His father came to his bedside and gave him this little bronze plate embossed with an image of a fierce tiger. His father told him if he carried it in his pocket, he would be able to do anything he set his mind to because the tiger held the powers of the Tiger General, powers meant for the strong and courageous. Much later he realized it was a standard pass the Tiger Generals’ messengers used.

He kept this one particular plate on himself every day.

The situation in front of him required much more than strength and courage. A hundred bandits had gathered to surround a few soldiers when very little money could be made.

Something was very wrong.

“Bring your evidence to the magistrate, and he’ll assign officers to investigate,” Feng said. “But blocking the road and randomly harassing any soldier is plain stupid. Harm the wrong soldier, and you’re all going to be killed.”

Chu pulled up behind Feng. “They’re behind us as well. We’re surrounded.”

“The criminal may be you!” the bandit continued, pointing the butt of his saber at Feng. “Why don’t you come with us to the magistrate, and we’ll talk about it in front of him?”

So, they didn’t intend to rob. They were looking to abduct, and they were waiting for the right moment to strike. The group of friends was in grave danger. Feng drew his horse back, opening up the space in front so he could see everything around him. How could this be happening?

Feng’s heart raced faster than he could withstand. They were on horses, and the bandits were not. That extra speed was their only advantage. He didn’t notice anyone on the road earlier, so they couldn’t have installed too many traps or ambushes behind them. Turning around, charging through the bandits in the rear, and riding the main road back toward the Rider’s Inn seemed like the sole course of action.

“After all, you look like a sleazy rapist to me!” the bandit shouted for all to hear. There was a roar of laughter.

“How dare you!” Wen shouted, drawing his sword. “Do you know who he is?”

Feng reached out in alarm, trying to grab Wen’s attention. He was too far away. Wen’s loud voice pierced through the thundering laughter.

“He’s General Mu’s son! Do you all want to die?”

The bandits fell silent, but only for a second. With a roar the men from both sides of the forest charged. Feng drew his sword, spun his horse around, and shouted, “Retreat! Back to the Rider’s Inn!”

His friends reacted, turned, and broke into a hard gallop. The bandits swarmed in like floodwater. Feng had never encountered a real battle before, but if they were out to kidnap for ransom, then he—not his friends—would be the prized possession. He needed to lead the bandits away from his friends if they were to have any chance of escaping.

Feng turned around and attacked the short bandit with the topknot, flying past him and slashing him across the face, almost cutting his skull open. The thug died instantly. Feng stabbed left and right, kicking his horse’s belly to urge it forward, struggling to break through the ring of hostiles.

Then he heard Wen shouting from behind. “Feng’s stuck back there! Feng’s stuck back there!”

“No!” Feng screamed as loud as he could. “Back to the inn!”

He knew they heard him, but in the distance he saw them approaching as fast as they could.

“No!” he shouted again. A spear flew across the air and struck Wen in the belly. He bowled over and fell from his horse. The bandits surrounded him and stabbed him over and over again.

Feng stared in disbelief. “Wen!” he shouted. They weren’t out to kidnap. They intended to murder. He kicked his warhorse and pummeled into the dense rows of bandits, slashing and stabbing as hard as he could, hoping to get to his other two friends before it was too late.

Chu’s horse screamed, lurching back and dismounting its rider.

They were attacking the horses. Without horses there would be no hope of getting out alive. Feng leaped off his mount and sent his horse away, wielding his sword with both hands like a battle ax and carving a path to Little Chu.

It was already too late. Chu was surrounded and stabbed from all directions at once, multiple spears and swords buried in his body. Dark blood poured from his mouth, and with his last breath, he screamed, “Run, Feng!”

Feng stabbed a bandit in the rib cage, pushed his sword all the way in until the hilt slammed against his chest. With a roar he shoved the writhing body into a crowd of enemies. He grabbed someone’s saber and swung and thrashed behind himself, fighting off those attacking his back while shielding his front with the dying bandit. He planted his feet on the hard ground, sensed Ding’s location, and pushed his way through.

Ding had already fallen off his horse, but he was hiding behind two trees standing very close together in front of a narrow gap only one person could penetrate at once, allowing him to hold back his attackers.

Feng forced his way to the two trees and dumped the dead bandit from his own sword and into the gap to seal it. He then circled around the smaller tree. “My horse is still alive,” he said. “Let’s go!”

He whistled for his horse and grabbed another saber from a dead bandit, and with a weapon in each hand, he leaped out from behind the trees and slashed at his nearest enemy.

The bandits were hardly skilled swordsmen. They were poorly coordinated and clearly had never trained to fight together.

But there were so many of them.

Feng created an opening when his warhorse broke through from behind. The massive charger was kicking and stomping the enemy, pressing them back, throwing them into disarray.

Ding stood right beside him, covered in blood—perhaps some of his own blood. “Go!” Feng shouted. He slashed another bandit in the neck, lodging his blade in the man’s collarbone.

“Careful!” Ding shouted from behind. Out of the corner of his eye, Feng noticed a spear flying toward him. Ding leaped in, crossing in front of Feng and blocking the spear with his body. He collapsed, the warhead plunged in his abdomen.

“No!” Feng wrenched his weapon free, hacked down another enemy, and leaped onto his horse. He grabbed Ding and dragged him onto the saddle, smacking the horse with the side of his saber. The charger surged forward. They were on a warhorse, one of the best in the army, and the bandits originally sealing off the road were out of position. Many were killed. Others couldn’t climb over the dead bodies littered across the narrow path. Feng’s warhorse met little resistance.

Ding yanked the spear out of his belly, and with a shout he threw it into the closest bandit. A stream of dark blood flew from Ding’s mouth.

Slowly he leaned his full weight against Feng’s back, fading out of consciousness. Feng threw away his saber and reached back with one hand to clutch his friend’s belt, preventing him from falling over. He urged the horse on, and the powerful stallion responded, charging forward at breakneck speed. The shouts and insults from behind were fading. In a moment, Feng found himself riding in silence.

His back was soaked with Ding’s blood. Ding’s breathing was becoming shorter and quicker.

“Ding! Wake up, Ding!”

How could this be happening? To think a few hundred untrained ruffians would dare confront a Tiger General’s army for mere ransom was hard to believe. Besides, they could have captured Wen and Little Chu when they fell off their horses. But they rushed in to kill without hesitating a step, as if taking them alive was never considered.

Feng felt a squeezing pain in his chest at the thought of Wen and Chu. They were gone. They were drinking and laughing and bickering only last night, and now they were gone.

A little side path branched off from the main road, and a small house hid behind a row of trees. He pulled his horse’s reins toward the house. It looked like the home of a local peasant, with coarse mud walls and an old wooden door once painted red. Feng had never spoken to a peasant before, much less asked one for help. He was the son of a Tiger General, high above the rest. Normally the peasants would be kneeling in front of his father’s mansion.

With Ding dying behind him, it didn’t matter if he had to bow to a beggar.

Feng reached the front door of the hut, dismounted, and dragged his friend’s unconscious body with him.

He took a deep breath and pounded the door with his fist.

An old woman with a wide gap between her oversized front teeth opened the door. She looked at Feng from head to toe, then at Ding. “Come on in,” she said. “I was afraid you wouldn’t knock. He’s bleeding to death, you know.”

Feng was more thankful than surprised. He lifted his friend as gently as he could and dragged him into the little hut. There was nothing inside except for a small bed, a table, and a brick cooking stove in the corner.

“We were attacked by bandits. There were four of us, and—”

The old woman sneered. “Stop barking like a neutered dog. You lost a fight, and you want to hide here. Put him in the bed. I’ll boil some towels to clean his wounds.”

Feng ignored her insolence, dragged his friend to the bed, placed him on his back, and tucked a coarse pillow under his head. Blood dripped everywhere. He yanked open Ding’s shirt and sucked in his breath. “No,” he whispered. “No.”

Ding looked up with a blank, lifeless stare.

The old woman brought a bucket of water and with one glance turned around to leave. “You should’ve told me earlier. I wouldn’t have brought the towels if I knew he was almost dead.”

Feng climbed onto the bed with trembling hands, lifted his friend’s head, and wrapped his body in his arms. “How do you feel, Ding?”

“I’m cold.”

“I-I’ll find you a blanket. I’ll—”

“No. Don’t leave.”

Feng held his friend tighter. “I’m here. I’m here.”

“What happened, Feng?”

Feng’s entire torso shook. His quivering lips were barely able to speak. “I don’t know.”

“Wen and Chu. They’re gone?”

Feng nodded.

A sob escaped Ding’s lips, and a trickle of tears rolled down his face. “I’ll . . . I’ll see them soon.”

“No!” Feng said. “Stay with me, Ding. Stay with me.”

“I’m sorry, Feng. You and Du are left behind. It’s still better than drinking alone. Tell him to stop eating at the whorehouse.” Ding tried to laugh at his own joke but only managed a choked sob. “How could there be so many bandits here?”

Feng shook his head, unable to respond.

“I’ve never heard of . . . of so many bandits . . .” Ding’s voice trailed off, and then the room was silent. Even his light gasps for air faded.

“How did we fail the people?” Feng whispered, struggling to speak so Ding could hear him. “Why did so many turn to crime?”

Ding took his last breath, his cold, limp body sinking into Feng’s arms. For a moment, the tears wouldn’t flow.

“Why are the people discontent?” Feng’s broken voice managed to say. He held his friend’s body closer. He felt ill and dizzy, as if he might vomit and faint all at once. He squeezed his eyes so tightly together that his tears couldn’t flow.

He threw his head back to scream.

“He had a gaping hole in his chest,” the old woman shouted from across the room. “Did you expect him to live?”

Feng collapsed on his friend’s body and wept. He shook with every sob, his clenched fists pounding the bed with every convulsion.

The door flew open so hard the old iron hinges rattled. A group of peasants carrying thick bamboo poles charged in, all of them young and strong. They moved in lock step with perfect discipline. They formed an arc around the door, each facing a different direction with their bodies poised to react. Feng recognized them.

“How dare you break my door!” the old woman shouted. “Get out of my house! I’ll report you to the magistrate!”

One peasant drew a sword halfway out of his bamboo pole, and the old woman fell silent.

A tall man with thick eyebrows and a short beard stepped in. He acknowledged the old woman once, then turned to Ding’s body.

“I’m sorry.”

“Uncle Shu,” Feng said, his voice trembling. His father’s brother was here, a powerful man of great skill and military prowess. At least he was safe now. “Wen, Chu, and now Ding. They’re all gone.”

Uncle Shu came to the side of the bed.

“How did you find me?” Feng asked. “How did you know?”

His uncle pulled a ragged sheet over Ding’s face so the horrid look of death would not stare back at them. The little hut was silent while he took Feng’s hand and led him to the table on the other side of the room. “Sit. I need you to calm down and tell me what happened.”

“I . . . we . . .” Feng couldn’t find words. He was so relieved to see his uncle and even more relieved to see the army’s elite, personally trained by his uncle, gathered around him. Strange, they were dressed in the coarse gray fabric of peasants, and their weapons were concealed in bamboo poles. Why would his uncle need to travel under disguise?

“You’re safe now, Feng,” Uncle Shu said. “Tell me what happened.”

Feng’s hands were still shaking.

Uncle Shu motioned for one of his men. “Bring the young master some liquor.”

Just the night before, they were drinking the finest liquor the little inn had to offer, laughing and playing dice late into the night. Feng remembered debating Mongol military tactics. Little Chu’s words echoed in his head. The Mongols may have the strongest cavalry in the world, but horses can’t climb walls. I can drink a bucket of liquor and still defend the country.

One of the soldiers placed a flask of liquor in front of Feng.

“I let my friends die,” Feng whispered. He didn’t wait for his uncle to respond. He grabbed the flask and emptied it in his mouth, guzzling the hard alcohol without taking a breath. He planted the flask on the table and tried to shake his head clear as his vision already began to blur.

“You shouldn’t be drinking like that, young man,” he heard the old woman say behind him. “Here, drink some water before you vomit all over my table. Not that I don’t have to spend all day cleaning up your friend’s blood.”

Feng grabbed the bowl of water placed before him and drank everything in one gulp.

“Take her outside,” Uncle Shu said to one of his men. “Give her some money for her troubles and ask her to leave us alone.”

Feng felt dizzy, incredibly drunk for a single flask of liquor. Maybe that was what his uncle wanted for him, something to numb his senses and help him forget. “Where is my father?” he asked.

He lowered his head onto his arms, leaned against the table, and closed his eyes. He had slept in the same position on a similar table the night before. His friends were alive then.

Nothing made sense anyway. His uncle was here, and very soon he would be taken home. His father would summon the army, they would round up all the bandits, and soon after he would find out why his friends were slaughtered in broad daylight, why even a Tiger General’s son could be attacked on his own land.

But in that moment he was dizzy and intoxicated, and he wanted to let everything go.

Very quickly the effects of the alcohol disappeared. He didn’t want it to leave his head, didn’t want his escape to be over so soon. He remained still, head in his arms, resting on the table with his eyes squeezed shut. Maybe if he tried not to move, he would eventually fall asleep and have sweet dreams.

“Sir, the young master is unconscious,” one of the soldiers said.

“Bring him to the carriage,” Uncle Shu replied.

“Do we need to secure him? In case he wakes up before we get there?”

“No need. He won’t wake up for another day.”

Feng’s heart beat so hard he thought his ribs would crack. He waited. Two men lifted him off his seat, wrapped his arms around their shoulders, and dragged him outside. Feng was determined to find out where they were taking him and whatever Uncle Shu wanted to do to him. He kept his eyes closed, his arms limp, his head hanging.

They lifted him into an enclosed carriage, settled him on his back, and walked away. Outside, at least a hundred men and numerous horses and carriages shuffled around. Feng heard his uncle giving orders to depart.

“You stay with the young master,” Uncle Shu said.

The operation was well planned and rehearsed. No one asked a single question after that.

Someone climbed into the carriage with Feng. The soldier placed his sword on the floor and shouted, “Go!”

The driver cracked his whip. They eased forward, then pulled into a steady speed. Feng waited. The road became smoother, and the horses picked up the pace. The heavy pounding of warhorses shifted to the front of the carriage, leaving only a few soldiers to protect the rear. The attack units had moved, and it was time.

Feng grabbed the sword lying on the floor of the carriage, drew the weapon, and pinned the blade against the soldier’s throat before he had time to react.

“Where are you taking me?” Feng asked in a quiet voice.

The soldier shook his head. “You—you were supposed to be unconscious . . .”

Feng pressed the tip of the sword harder into the base of his throat, piercing the skin. Blood trickled at the tip. The soldier froze.

“Answer me!”

“We’re going to the City of Eternal Peace.”

Feng’s eyebrows knit together. “General Wu’s fortress?”

The soldier nodded. “Young master, we didn’t mean to—”

“Why is my uncle doing this?”

“I don’t know.”

“Why am I being escorted to another Tiger General’s city? Where’s my father?”

“I’m just a soldier, young master. You know we only receive our orders.”

Feng took a deep breath. “I’m going to kill you if you don’t tell me.”

The soldier’s face was blank, his lips pressed together.

“I’m the general’s son. I can kill you for entertainment, and no one would do a thing.”

“We’re the general’s soldiers, young master. But we’re also your soldiers.”

Feng paused, lowering his sword. “You’re the people’s soldiers. You fight to defend the people, not my father or me. Don’t ever forget.”

“I won’t, young master.”

Feng spun his sword around and hammered the soldier’s head with the handle. The soldier collapsed.

Feng reached for his peasant clothing, about to strip him, and hesitated. He had never worn the coarse fabric of a common man, much less the filthy rags of a peasant. He could almost smell the soil stains on the straw sandals.

His own clothing reeked of dried blood, so changing into dirty canvas would not be so bad.

Feng cursed himself for worrying about the quality of his clothes at a time like this. He stripped the soldier and dressed him in his own bloody robes, then lifted the unconscious body with one hand and the sword with his other and kicked the carriage door open. He threw the soldier halfway out, facedown, and released a long, tortured cry.

“Young master!” one of the riders in the rear called. The soldier hurried forward, closing the distance between himself and Feng’s carriage. Feng threw his sword out the partially opened door. The soldier outside evaded the flying sword and was barely recovering when Feng leaped out, slammed into him, and sent him toppling off his horse. Feng recovered his own position on the speeding mount, grabbed the reins, planted his feet in the stirrups, and squeezed the horse’s belly. The other guards were charging up behind him. A side road appeared ahead. Feng saw his opportunity and brought his horse thundering down the little path.

The guards followed. Feng reached for the sword hanging from the saddle, spun around, and charged into his pursuers.

“Young master!” one guard shouted. They recognized him and pulled back. No one wanted to fight the general’s son.

He tried not to think of how his friends had died that morning, how hundreds of bandits waited for him in ambush, how Ding died in his arms. The little beggar at the inn that morning, who watched them from outside and didn’t bother to collect the coins Feng left for him, must have been there to report when they began their ride home. The ambush was prepared for them and only them.

His uncle could have encountered the slaughter in the forest and traced his tracks and Ding’s blood to the peasant woman’s house. There was no way to understand why his uncle was out there looking for him, his elite unit dressed as peasants, or why he drugged his own nephew.

Feng kicked his horse and rode as hard as he could, heading south for Major Pass toward the City of Stones. Major Pass, the main artery running across the north of the empire and parallel to the Great Wall, connected the city fortresses of all four Tiger Generals. It used to be named something else, but the people called it Major Pass because it was the widest, most well paved road north of the capital. Armies and their supply wagons could efficiently move on this road.

As far back as Feng could remember, the empire was at peace within its borders.  Aside from skirmishes with the barbarians in the north and short wars with the island nations in the south, people lived well in China.

He remembered the quick briefing he received from two officers right before he left for the Rider’s Inn. They had told him the Venom Sect was recently active in this area, but no one knew why. Feng recalled asking the local government to involve themselves, saying that the military shouldn’t interfere with civilian criminals.

The Venom Sect was a powerful group of poison users rumored to be four hundred members strong and headed by a ruthless leader named Red Cobra. The officers told him yesterday that Red Cobra was also spotted in the area. Feng laughed and asked how much snake venom it would take to poison an army.

Then they informed him that the Silencer had killed Tiger General Lo. They had expected this news ever since he was ordered to invade Mongolia and capture the undefeated barbarian king known as the Silencer. General Lo walked into Mongolia with only two hundred men in an apparent act of suicide. As of yesterday they still hadn’t found his body. All his men were dead, and the Silencer took no prisoners. Some even said the Silencer was spotted killing off the Chinese soldiers by himself. General Lo guarded the easternmost fortress in the empire facing the Khitans. For the emperor to order him to march away from the barbarian nation he was guarding against to attack an undefeated Mongol king made no sense at all.

None of these events should have had anything to do with what happened that morning. The bandits were clearly not members of the Venom Sect. They were thugs carrying steel weapons they didn’t know how to use, fighting in plain view instead of killing from the shadows.

It was almost noon by now, and Feng was rapidly approaching the City of Stones.

Available October 5th!

About the Author

 As a lifelong student of martial arts, and growing up watching martial arts flicks in the 80s and 90s, Yu decided early on that he would write in this genre. Inspired by George RR Martin’s work, he decided he would write a series in English in this centuries-old Asian genre. Yu has written three previous novels, The Legend of Snow WolfHaute Tea Cuisine and Yin Yang Blades. Yu has aBFA Film and Television from NYU Tisch School of Arts. He was born inGuangzhou, China, but presently lives in New York City.

Fred Yu  

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New Book!

I’m thrilled to share the beautiful cover of another exciting Botanic Hill Detectives mystery! This one is called Walnut Street: Phantom Rider and its coming late this Fall!

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Walnut Street: Phantom Rider (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mystery)

Expected Publication Date: November 9th, 2021

Genre: MG Mystery/ Middle Grade (For fans of Nancy Drew type mysteries)

Objects of value have been disappearing from the Mayfield family’s rural California horse ranch. The Botanic Hill Detectives—Moki Kalani, Rani Kumar, and twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt—are hired to come for a week to investigate.   

Legend has it somewhere on the Mayfields’ forty-acre property is a long-lost gold mine. It was supposedly staked by thirteen-year-old Ben Mayfield’s five-time great-grandfather, “Papa” Mayfield, in 1875.

Adding to the excitement, a nervous Ben reveals a frightening secret to the detectives. At the ranch, he alone has seen a threatening black-clad figure on horseback whom he calls the Phantom Rider. Who is this mysterious person? Is he responsible for the thefts? Where is the lost gold mine? And what’s going on in the nearby, snake-infested ghost town of Rainbow Flats? The four intrepid detectives aim to find out.

Coming Soon!

About the Author

Sherrill Joseph will be forever inspired by her beautiful students in the San Diego public schools where she taught for thirty-five years before retiring and becoming a published author.

The author has peopled and themed her mysteries with characters after her own responsible, role-model students, of various abilities, disabilities, races, cultures, and interests. She believes that children need to find themselves and those unlike themselves in books for developing accepting, anti-racist world citizens.

Sherrill is a native San Diegan where she lives in a 1928 Spanish-style house in a historic neighborhood with her adorable bichon frisé-poodle mix, Jimmy Lambchop, who blogs.

Her books are recipients of two Gold Awards from Mom’s Choice Book Awards, a Gold Award from Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, three awards from Story Monsters Approved, and numerous other children’s book awards. She is a member of SCBWI, the Authors Guild, and Blackbird Writers. Watch for many more adventures with the Botanic Hill Detectives!

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Book Tour: To Be Enlightened

Welcome to the tour for “cosmic love story”, To Be Enlightened by Alan J. Steinberg. Read on for details and a chance to win a $100 Amazon e-gift card!

To Be Enlightened

Publication Date: February 27, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Literary Fiction/ Romance

To Be Enlightened is a cosmic love story that follows Professor of Philosophy Abe Levy as he grapples with what it means to love both his wife, Sarah, and the ocean of silence within. It is also an intellectual exploration of the most intimate of subjects: our consciousness.

Abe Levy’s long tenure as a philosophy professor has motivated thousands of students to ponder age-old questions in light of New Age ideas. Though Abe is passionate about his teaching, he is obsessed with a powerful childhood dream of heaven. To return to that heaven, he must reach enlightenment in his lifetime. Day after day, Abe settles into deep meditation, reaching the very cusp of his goal but unable to cross the threshold. Desperately, he commits to doing whatever it takes, even if it means abandoning his wife for a more ascetic life-a decision that sets off a cascade of consequences for Abe, Sarah, and those he loves the most.

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Excerpt

Vedic wisdom holds that during the forty-eight minutes prior to sunrise, which is called the Brahma Muhurta, a wave of purity and balance sweeps through the world, gently waking it up, along with the birds and other animals. I sip my coffee, enjoying the silence and morning calm. About fifteen minutes before sunrise, the birds start singing praises, enlivening and infusing the atmosphere with optimism for the approaching day. The transition rarely fails to uplift me.

A high-pitched fluttering followed by a distinctive buzzing draws my attention. I look up to see a large, shiny purple hummingbird hovering about a foot above the center of the table, looking at me as if wanting to speak. It flits its beak up, down, and sideways, and—zip! It’s gone. I don’t remember ever seeing a hummingbird so close. I sit for a moment. I know that hummingbird! I’ve seen her many times before in my dream. But she was always a bee.

I do asanas and pranayama and then walk toward our bedroom for my morning meditation. The hummingbird gets me thinking about omens. If there really are omens, does it mean that God communicates with us only at specific, special times? Or is it that at certain times we become still enough to precipitate an omen? Maybe there are always omens and we aren’t aware enough to appreciate them? I bet it’s even more complex than that. I adjust my pillows for meditation. In a half lotus, my eyes close.

Mantra, mantra, maaaantra, mmmannntraaaa, maaa…mantra emerges from shimmering pool, drop of water in reverse. Mantra, mantra, mmmmaa…the place on surface of pool where mantra will emerge begins to move, vibrate…I am observing and hearing the mantra’s emergence from my consciousness. It is separate from the real Me, the observer…The school’s administrative board has asked me to head the search committee for a new chief of campus security. I don’t know anything about security. I’m not going…I observe that thought, and this thought, arise in the same way the Mantra emerges.So interesting…Mantra, mantra, mantraaaaa, maaaantra…surface of pool, no ripples, no thoughts, no feelings coming from body or mind, endless…one side, silent awareness; other side, activity. Mantra, maantraa, mmmmm…mantra barely tickles my expansive surface…Bliss surges through body, mind. Bliss is caused by awareness of subtle disturbance at junction between…Mantra, mantra, mantraaaaa, mmmmmmaaaaaaa…flowing outward, all directions; I am a boundless, luminous mirror between my self and my Self… Mmmaaaa…mmmm…maaaaa…I am the surface of the ocean, impossibly still, deafeningly silent…needing to let go…ready to let go…fearing loss…Mmmmmmmm…decision made, must go forward, will go forward…surrendering all I thought I was for what I am…individuality dissolves: raindrop, ocean…

I am.

I am—the vast, unbounded ocean of consciousness. I am—unmoving wholeness. I was never that body or that mind. I have been observing Abe Levy since the moment he was born, and much, much longer than that. I am—at peace. I am—now awake. I was sleeping before. I can see the sun and the planets clearly. They are so dear to have nurtured Mother Earth, allowing her to birth humanity. I notice distantly that my body is glowing. Time is immaterial and has lost its grip on me…

* * *

Back in my body, I look over at my bedside alarm clock. More than an hour has gone by. I lie down to rest and a deep sleep envelops my body and mind, though I am awake, aware, and witnessing.

I get up and put on my robe. Something is very, very different. It’s as if I am still meditating even though my body and I are active in the world. I am in two places at the same time—the unbounded ocean of consciousness and the bounded world of activity and senses. I have never, ever, felt so good and so focused. I walk to the kitchen, but I don’t seem to be moving.

It happened. The thought comes that I should be jumping with joy, but I’m past that. A more pressing, evolving issue appears to be whether my body can contain my joy. I close my eyes and watch as thin, sparkling beams of Bliss increasingly poke their way through the shell that is my old body, shining out from my new one in a myriad of luminous, waving threads of various lengths and hues. The brightest and most numerous ones are congregated around my solar plexus and the top of my head. The weirdest part of all is that I’m not surprised or concerned by this in the least.

I make oatmeal with whole milk, dried cherries, roasted almond slivers, cinnamon, cardamom, and a hint of nutmeg. I notice something is gone. I am not, in general, an anxious or fearful man, but I now realize I had significant anxiety and fear all my life. I know this because, for the first time, I am completely without those constant companions. Along with my anxieties and fears, my worries about leaving Sarah to go to Fairfield have evaporated. I don’t have to go anywhere now. I am where I have always wanted to be. I’m Here. The weight of responsibility that I had shouldered in guiding Sarah around her triggers has lifted. I think that I can now lovingly support her without feeling bogged down or burdened.

I shower, shave, dress for class, and it all seems to happen automatically, as if I’m uninvolved in the process. I was somewhat intellectually prepared for this, but even after over fifty years of meditation, I’m not prepared experientially. This will take some getting used to.

Walking to my office, the world is delicious. The singing birds are part of me, thrilling me thoroughly from the inside with our perfect twittering. My heart sings with them. My body hums with a hymn as my feet beat the rhythm into the sidewalk.

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About the Author

Alan J. Steinberg, MD is board-certified in Internal Medicine and practices with the Cedars-Sinai Medical Group in Beverly Hills, California. He also serves as one of the attending physicians for the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. He grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he learned Transcendental Meditation (TM) in 1975. Earning his undergraduate philosophy degree at Pomona and Pitzer Colleges in Claremont, California, he went on to attend the University of Nevada School of Medicine, receiving an MD degree in 1984. His first book was a non-fiction consumer’s guide, The Insider’s Guide to HMOs (Plume/Penguin), which garnered favorable reviews in the Los Angeles Times and other publications as well as appearances on The Today Show20/20 and C-Span. The book helped sway the direction that healthcare was heading in the late 1990s. His debut novel, To Be Enlightened(Adelaide Books, 2021), is a work of visionary fiction, inspired by some of his own experiences as a lifelong practitioner of TM. Dr. Steinberg lives with his wife of over thirty-five years in Los Angeles, California. They are the proud parents of three young adults.

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Book Tour: The Matchmaker

TheMatchmaker

Welcome to the tour for psychological thriller, The Matchmaker by Hélene Fermont! Read on for more details!

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The Matchmaker

Publication Date: April 14th, 2021

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Perfect Lives Don’t Come Cheap.

Marcia Bailey has it all: a passionate marriage to a rich and handsome man who is utterly devoted to her; fame and success as London’s premier matchmaker; a beautiful home in a posh neighbourhood, and fabulous holidays in exotic places.

But her perfect life turns into a nightmare overnight when a mysterious caller suddenly threatens to reveal secrets from her past she thought she had left behind forever. Who is he and what does he really want? He says he wants three million pounds to keep quiet, and she’s willing to pay. After all, she has already sacrificed so much, and perfect lives don’t come cheap.

But Marcia has a hunch her caller wants more than money from her. He wants to hurt and humiliate her. But why?

As police investigate a brutal murder in a wealthy London neighborhood, they untangle a web of lies, violence, sex and jealousy surrounding Marcia Bailey and the group of wealthy and powerful men who have secrets of their own to keep.

The Matchmaker is filled with unexpected twists and turns — and characters that will haunt you long after you’ve read the last page.

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The Matchmaker is Available for Purchase Here!

About the Author

Helene author photo

Hélene Fermont’s a practising psychologist with vast experience of people from all walks of life and background. Her Character Driven Psychological Thrillers are completely fictitious with much emphasis on their journey and interaction, intriguing traits and storylines.

After many years in London, Hélene divides her time between London and her home town, Malmö. Her beloved, beautiful cat, Teddy, is her writing buddy.

Hélene’s the proud author of five Psychological Thrillers; Because Of YouWe Never Said GoodbyeHis Guilty SecretOne Fatal Night, and The Matchmaker. Hélene’s the author of a collection of crime and romantic stories, Who’s Sorry Now? Currently, she’s working on her second collection, Maisie’s Secret which will be released later this year.

Hélene’s novels and stories are known for their explosive, pacy narrative and storylines.

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Twitter Tags: @helenefermont @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #TheMatchMaker

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TheMatchmaker

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Book Tour!: Bake Believe

Welcome to the blog tour for Bake Believe by Cori Cooper! Read on for details and don’t forget to enter the “sweetest” giveaway at the bottom!

Bake Believe Cover

Bake Believe

Publication Date: November 20th, 2020

Genre: YA/ Middle School/ Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Immortal Works

Cat Anderson doesn’t want much out of life. Give her a circle of friends to giggle with, a few boys to flirt with, a cute outfit and bouncy hair and she is good to go!
She especially could care less about food.
But food, it turns out, is a very big deal.
A scheduling mishap on her first day of 8th Grade lands Cat in a Culinary Arts class. Something happens when Cat bakes, something amazing, something impossible.
Can it be true?
Or is it Bake Believe?

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Excerpt

“Hey, Pen.” I step into the room and shut the door softly behind me. 

“Hey.” She doesn’t turn away from the mirror. Her face is all scrunched up in concentration.

“You look good, you don’t even wobble when you hold that pose anymore.”

Penny grunts instead of responding with words. I know this is not the best time to bother her, but I also know she will feel much better if she eats one of these cookies. 

“I made something for you.” 

I hold up the plate of cookies with a huge grin, but she just sniffs. “Cookies? I can’t eat those before an audition. I will barf all over the floor.” 

My smile drops. What will I do if she won’t try one? I chew my bottom lip, “Um, these are special cookies.” I wiggle the plate around while I use my best mystical, magical voice, like Robyn did. 

Penny raises her eyebrows. “Do you think I’m four?”

I slump forward in defeat, “Come on Penny, just eat one. I’ll give you a dollar.”

“What?” She steps back, away from me, “You want to pay me? Why? What did you do to them?”

“Nothing,” I say, but the word comes out too stretched and kind of uncertain.

Penny crosses her arms and stares. 

“Okay, fine, here’s the thing.” I jump off the bed, leaving the cookies behind, and proceed to tell Penny the entire story about our family legacy. She doesn’t say anything, just taps her toes like I am keeping her from her warmup.

Which, I am, actually.

“This isn’t a joke, Pen. It’s for reals.” 

After a long pause Penny unfolds her arms to move them to her hips. “Really? That’s the truth? It sounds like make believe.”

“That’s what I thought too,” I place my hand flat on my heart, “But, it’s the total, honest truth.” 

Available on Amazon and Immortal Works!

About the Author

Cori (2)

Cori Cooper lives in the magical Arizona Mountains, which she’s pretty convinced is the setting for all the fairy tales.

Besides writing stories, she adores hanging out with her family, playing board games, hiking and baking, baking, baking. Like Cat’s family, she’s positive Cinnamon Rolls fix everything.

Cori’s Stories | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Twitter Tags: @CoriCAuthor @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #BakeBelieve #Books

IG Tags: @authorcoricooper @shannon_rrbooktours #bakebelieve #rrbooktours (Your usual bookish tags)

Giveaway (US ONLY): Signed Copy of the Bake Believe and a Matching Apron

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Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0e7c6a8f267/?

Bake Believe copy

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