Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Blog Tour: The Patriot Threat (Cotton Malone) March 31, 2015 by Steve Berry




The Patriot Threat
21853687The 16th Amendment to the Constitution is why Americans pay income taxes. But what if there were problems associated with that amendment? Secrets that call into question decades of tax collecting? In fact, there is a surprising truth to this hidden possibility.Cotton Malone, once a member of an elite intelligence division within the Justice Department known as the Magellan Billet, is now retired and owns an old bookshop in Denmark. But when his former-boss, Stephanie Nelle, asks him to track a rogue North Korean who may have acquired some top secret Treasury Department files—the kind that could bring the United States to its knees—Malone is vaulted into a harrowing twenty-four hour chase that begins on the canals in Venice and ends in the remote highlands of Croatia.

With appearances by Franklin Roosevelt, Andrew Mellon, a curious painting that still hangs in the National Gallery of Art, and some eye-opening revelations from the $1 bill, this riveting, non-stop adventure is trademark Steve Berry—90% historical fact, 10% exciting speculation—a provocative thriller posing a dangerous question: What if the Federal income tax is illegal?
 


Coming March 31, 2015





Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of The Lincoln MythThe King's DeceptionThe Columbus AffairThe Jefferson KeyThe Emperor's TombThe Paris VendettaThe Charlemagne PursuitThe Venetian BetrayalThe Alexandria LinkThe Templar LegacyThe Third Secret,The Romanov Prophecy, and The Amber Room. His books have been translated into 40 languages with 19,000,000 copies in 51 countries. They consistently appear in the top echelon of The New York TimesUSA Today, and Indie bestseller lists.

History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It's his passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, which led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have crossed the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners and their popular writers’ workshops. To date, nearly 2,000 students have attended those workshops. In 2012 and 2013 Steve’s devotion to historic preservation was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Steve it’s spokesperson for National Preservation Week. Among his other honors is the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award; the 2013 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award given by Poets & Writers; the 2013 Anne Frank Human Writes Award; and the Silver Bullet, bestowed in 2013 by International Thriller Writers for his philanthropic work. A 2010 NPR survey named The Templar Legacy one of the top 100 thrillers ever written.

Steve was born and raised in Georgia, graduating from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. He was a trial lawyer for 30 years and held elective office for 14 of those years. He is a founding member of International Thriller Writers—a group of more than 2,600 thriller writers from around the world—and served three years as its co-president.




CHAPTER ONE
VENICE, ITALY
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10
10:40 P.M.

COTTON MALONE DOVE TO THE FLOOR AS BULLETS PEPPERED THE glass wall. Thankfully the transparent panel, which separated one space from another floor-to-ceiling, did not shatter. He risked a look into the expansive secretarial area and spotted flashes of light through the semi-darkness, each burst emitted from the end of a short-barreled weapon. The glass between him and the assailant was obviously extra-resistant, and he silently thanked someone’s foresight.
His options were limited.
He knew little about the geography of the building’s eighth floor—after all, this was his first visit. He’d come expecting to covertly observe a massive financial transaction—$20 million U.S. being stuffed into two large sacks destined for North Korea. Instead the exchange had turned into a bloodbath, four men dead in an office not far away, their killer—an Asian man with short, dark hair and dressed as a security guard—now homing in on him.
He needed to take cover.
At least he was armed, toting his Magellan Billet-issued Beretta and two spare magazines. The ability to travel with a gun was one advantage that came with again carrying a badge for the United States Justice Department. He’d agreed to the temporary assignment as a way to take his mind off things in Copenhagen, and to earn some money since nowadays spy work paid well. Think.
He was outgunned, but not outsmarted.
Control what’s around you and you control the outcome.
He darted left down the corridor, across gritty terrazzo, just as another volley finally obliterated the glass wall. He passed a nook with a restroom door on either side and kept going. Farther on a maid’s cart sat unattended. He caught sight of a propped-open door to a nearby office and spied a uniformed woman cowering in the dark interior.
He whispered in Italian, “Crawl under the desk and stay quiet.”
She did as he commanded.
This civilian could be a problem. Collateral damage was the term used for them in Magellan Billet reports. He hated the description. More accurately they were somebody’s father, mother, brother, sister. Innocents, caught in the crossfire.
It would be only a few moments before the Asian appeared.
He noticed another office door and rushed inside the dark space. The usual furniture lay scattered. A second doorway led to an adjacent room, light spilling in through its half-open door. A quick glance inside that other space confirmed that the second room opened back to the hall.
That would work.
His nostrils detected the odor of cleaning solution, an open metal canister holding several gallons resting at few feet away. He also spotted a pack of cigarettes and a lighter on the maid’s cart.
Control what’s around you.
He grabbed both, then tipped over the metal container.
Clear fluid gurgled onto the hall floor, spreading across the tile in a river that flowed in the direction from which the Asian would come.
He waited.
Five seconds later his attacker, leading with the automatic rifle, peered around a corner, surely wondering where his prey might be.
Malone lingered another few seconds so as to be seen.
The rifle appeared.
He darted into the office. Bullets peppered the maid’s cart in deafening bursts. He flicked the lighter and ignited the cigarette pack. Paper, cellophane, and tobacco began to burn. One. Two. He tossed the burning bundle out the door and into the clear film that sheathed the hall floor.
A swoosh and the cleaning liquid caught fire.
Movement in the second room confirmed what he’d thought would happen. The Asian had taken refuge there from the burning floor. Before his enemy could fully appreciate his dilemma Malone plunged through the doorway, tackling the man to the ground.
The rifle clattered away.
His right hand clamped onto the man’s throat.
But his opponent was strong.
And nimble.
They rolled, twice, colliding with a desk.
He told himself to keep his grip. But the Asian pivoted off the floor and catapulted him feet first into the air. His body hinged across his opponent’s head. He was thrust aside and the Asian sprang to his feet. He readied himself for a fight, but the “guard” fled the room.
He found his gun and approached the door, heart pounding, lungs heaving. Remnants of the liquid still smoldered on the floor. The hall was clear and wet footprints led away. He followed them. At a corner, he stopped and glanced around, seeing no one. He advanced toward the elevators and studied the transom, noticing that the position-indicator displays for both cars were lit on 8—this floor. He pressed the UP button and jumped back ready to fire.
The doors opened.
The right car was empty. The left held a bloodied corpse, dressed only in his underwear. The real guard, he assumed. He stared at the contorted face, obscured by two gaping wounds. Surely part of the plan was not only to eliminate all of the participants, but to leave no witnesses behind. He glanced inside the car and spotted a destroyed control panel. He checked the other car and found that it had also been disabled. The only way out now was the stairs.
He entered the stairwell and listened. Someone was climbing the risers toward the roof. He vaulted up as fast as caution advised, keeping an eye ahead for trouble.
A door opened, then closed.
At the top he found an exit and heard the distinct churn of a helicopter turbine starting from the other side.
He cracked open the door.
A chopper faced away, tail boom and fin close, its cabin pointing out to the night. The rotors began to wind fast and the Asian quickly loaded on the two large sacks of cash, then jumped inside.
Blades spun faster and the skids lifted from the roof.
He pushed open the door.
A chilly wind buffeted him.
Should he fire? No. Let it go? He’d been sent only to observe, but things had gone wrong, so now he needed to earn his keep. He stuffed the pistol into his back pocket, buttoned it shut, and ran. One leap and he grabbed hold of the rising skid.
The chopper powered out into the dark sky.
What a strange sensation, flying unprotected through the night. He clung tightly to the metal skid with both hands, the chopper’s airspeed making it increasingly difficult to hang on.
He stared down.
They were headed east, away from the mainland, toward the water and the islands. The location where the murders had occurred was on the Italian shore, a few hundred yards inland, a nondescript office building near Marco Polo International Airport. The lagoon itself was enclosed by thin strips of lighted coast joined in a wide arc to the mainland, Venice lying at the center.
The chopper banked right and increased speed.
He wrapped his right arm around the skid for a better hold.
Ahead he spied Venice, its towers and spires lit to the night. Beyond on all sides was blackness, signaling open water. Farther east was Lido, which fronted the Adriatic. His mind ticked off what lay below. To the north, ground lights betrayed the presence of Murano, then Burano and, farther on, Torcello. The islands lay embedded in the lagoon like sparkling trinkets. He curled himself around the skid and for the first time stared up into the cabin.
The “guard” eyed him.
The chopper veered left, apparently to see if the unwanted passenger could be dislodged. His body flew out, then whipped back, but he held tight and stared up once more into icy eyes. He saw the Asian slide open the hatch with his left hand, the rifle in his right. In the instant before rounds rained down at the skids, he swung across the undercarriage toward the other skid and jerked himself over.
Bullets smacked the left skid, disappearing down through the dark. He was now safe on the right side, but his hands ached from gravity’s pull. The chopper again rocked back and forth, tapping his last bits of strength. He hooked his left leg onto the skid, hugging the metal. The brisk air dried his throat, making breathing difficult. He worked hard to build up saliva and relieve the parching.
He needed to do something and fast.
He studied the whirling rotors, blades beating the air, the staccato of the turbine deafening. On the roof he’d hesitated, but now there appeared to be no choice. He held on tight with his legs and left arm, then reached back and unbuttoned his pant pocket. He stuffed in his right hand and removed the Beretta.
Only one way left to force the chopper down.
He fired three shots into the screaming turbine just below the rotor’s hub.
The engine sputtered.
Flames poured out of the air intake and exhaust pipe. Airspeed diminished. The nose went up in an effort to stay airborne.
He glanced down.
They were still a thousand feet up but rapidly losing altitude in something of a controlled descent.
He could see an island ahead of them. Scattered glows defined its rectangular shape just north of Venice. He knew the place. Isola di San Michele. Nothing there but a couple of churches and a huge cemetery where the dead had been buried since the time of Napoleon.
More sputtering.
A sudden backfire.
Thick smoke billowed from the exhaust, the scent of sulfur and burning oil sickening. The pilot was apparently trying to stabilize the descent, the craft jerking up and down, its control planes working hard.
They overtook the island flying close to the dome of its main church. At twenty feet off the ground success seemed at hand. The chopper leveled, then hovered. Its turbine smoothed. Below was a dark spot, but he wondered how many stone markers might be waiting. Hard to see anything in the darkness. The chopper’s occupants surely knew they still had company. So why land? Just head back up and ditch their passenger from the air.
He should have shot the turbine a few times more.
Now he had no choice.
So he let go of the skid.
He seemed to fall for the longest time, though if memory served him right a free-falling object fell at the rate of thirty-two feet per second, per second. Twenty feet equaled less than one second. He hoped that the ground was soft and that he avoided stone.
He pounded legs-first, his knees collapsing to absorb the shock, then rebounding, sending him rolling. His left thigh instantly ached. Somehow he managed to hold on to the gun. He came to a stop and looked back up. The pilot seemed to have regained full control. The helicopter pitched up and maneuvered closer. A swing to the right and his attacker now had a clear view below. He could probably limp off, but he saw no good ground cover. He was in the open, amid the graves. The Asian seemed to sense his predicament, hovering less than a hundred feet away, the downwash from the blades stirring up loose topsoil. The helicopter’s hatch slid open and his attacker one-handedly took aim with the automatic rifle.
Malone propped himself up and aimed the pistol using both hands. There couldn’t be more than four rounds left in the magazine.
Make ’em count.
So he aimed at the engine.
The Asian gestured to the pilot for a retreat.
But not before Malone fired. One, two, three, four shots.
Hard to tell which bullet actually did the trick, but the turbine exploded, a brilliant fireball lighting the sky, flaming chunks cascading to the ground in a searing shower fifty yards away. In the sudden light he spotted hundreds of grave markers in tightly packed rows. He hugged the earth and shielded his head as the explosions continued, a heaping mass of twisted metal, flesh, and burning fuel erupting before him.
He stared at the carnage.
A crackle of flames consumed the helicopter, its occupants, and $20 million, U.S. in cash.
Somebody was going to be pissed.

Excerpted from The Patriot Threat by Steve Berry. Copyright © 2015 by Steve Berry. Excerpted by permission of Minotaur Books, a division of St. Martin’s Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

HUGE Review Round-Up



As some of you may know, I am many things other than a book blogger.  I am a wife, mother, teacher at the Y, a paraprofessional within the school and I take on others roles as they arise.  I never leave the house without a book and I am reading any chance I get (well past my bedtime most nights).  Also, people wonder how I can read so many books when I am so busy, remember that many of these books I have had for months, well before the pub dates, so that gives me lots of time to read.  I am usually reading a book as that I will review the next month.  In addition to my addiction to print and ebooks, I also love listening to audio books.  There is so much time that can be filled by listening to a book...like laundry, cleaning and waiting to pick kids up from school.  With that said, what is sometimes hard is getting the time to sit down and write down all my lovely reviews, so when I finally get to this I write a bunch at a time.  This gives my viewers more books to check out.  So here are the books that I have enjoyed this month!  I hope you like them too!










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Stan Lee presents a brand new, magical, super-powered adventure! 

When twelve magical superpowers are unleashed on the world, a Chinese-America teenager named Steven will be thrown into the middle of an epic global chase. He'll have to master strange powers, outrun super-powered mercenaries, and unlock the mysterious powers of the Zodiac.



MY REVIEW:
I was blown away by this book and was so glad to see that it is a series.  There is something awesome about the blend of the magical powers and the character's nature states of being with their normal insecurities and struggles. It was awesome seeing how all these unlikely people were put together and found a way to become a team.  There are new role models fro your kids within these pages, whether male or female.  Either will find something they love about this book!  Not only are the characters strong, believable and likable, but the story is action packed and edge of your seat fun!!!  Parent may want to read this WITH their kids.  You will love it too! 4.5 stars


Grace's name may be a bit of a misnomer, for graceful she is not. She wants to be a ballerina, but dancing is not her forte. "Give it up, Grace," the other girls tell her. Saddened, Grace turns to drawing--and when she does, she starts to feel better. Grace is good at drawing and the other girls love her artwork. Grace finds a way to be part of the ballet using her true talent—she paints the sets! But the indefatigable Grace also keeps dancing in this easy reader that encourages youngsters to celebrate their own special gifts.


MY REVIEW:
Such a cute book about a girl trying to find her "thing".  She tried out dancing and that may not be the right fit.  Find out what she does that makes her truly happy and highlights her strengths!!   4.5 stars



"You two are just alike!" everyone  tells duckling twins Olivia and Lily. But while Olivia likes to "jump in the mud," run around, and quack so everyone can hear, Lily prefers studying and daydreaming. These different activities don't always work well together, and eventually the twins grow annoyed by their differences and head off in opposite directions.
But the twins can't stand to be apart for long. Lily comes looking for Olivia only to find her stuck in a tree. An adventure ensues then ends in a frightening tumble. Finally safe, the twins realize that while sometimes they are the same and sometimes they are different, one thing is certain: they are "always twins."

MY REVIEW:
An adorable about a set of towns who everyone thinks they are just alike. This drives the twins nuts.  One day they get upset with each other and storm off in opposite directions and soon they discover they are better together even though they are very different.  4 stars



Moving into a new neighborhood can be hard for a kid. Come join the Little Imaginators as they build a cardboard box adventure with new friends and learn to look beyond appearances to truly get to know people. 

Kids love the imaginative adventures in Little Imaginators’ stories as they learn valuable life lessons. 

MY REVIEW:

An important story about the power of friendship mixed with imagination and how the two things together can make a scary and unknowing situation so much better.  There is value in knowing that there is more than meets the eyes in many circumstances.  I enjoyed that this book was meaningful and sparked conversation with by boys and I. 
4 stars 

Product Details

Suzie has a dilemma on her hands when she has a look in her sock drawer. All of her socks have disappeared and she decides to go and find out where they could all be? Follow Suzie through her story as she discovers her socks are having fun hiding from her. 

MY REVIEW:
Doesn't it seem like your socks as always going missing???  Help Suzie find her silly socks, as they are never where she thinks they should be.  A cute story for early readers.  3 stars


Product Details

"Clive is a very clever crow that has discovered a place where food is very abundant. He waits until there are no children or adults around before flying down. 
The children have been wondering who has been eating their food, so Clive decides to write them a letter. Can you guess his favourite food?" 

MY REVIEW:
A cute story about a silly, clever school lunch eating crow.  He is hid in every page, so look closely!  A good story for early readers.  3 stars




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Jenny is a successful family doctor, the mother of three great teenagers, married to a celebrated neurosurgeon.

But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn’t come home after her school play, Jenny’s seemingly ideal life begins to crumble. The authorities launch a nationwide search with no success. Naomi has vanished, and her family is broken.

As the months pass, the worst-case scenarios—kidnapping, murder—seem less plausible. The trail has gone cold. Yet for a desperate Jenny, the search has barely begun. More than a year after her daughter’s disappearance, she’s still digging for answers—and what she finds disturbs her. Everyone she’s trusted, everyone she thought she knew, has been keeping secrets, especially Naomi. Piecing together the traces her daughter left behind, Jenny discovers a very different Naomi from the girl she thought she’d raised.
 

MY REVIEW:
This book is so twisty and turning.  It was such a page turner because you were feed bits of information slowly, so you were trying to burn through the pages to see what happens. It takes you back and forth in time, all the while fleshing out the characters, opening them up and exposing secrets that call into question everything you thought you knew.  I highly recommend this book and think it would make a great book club pick!!!  4.5 stars

22571603


Stacey Ballis cooks up a delicious broth of a novel about a woman whose perfect life falls apart in spectacular fashion--leaving her with a house to restore, an antique cookbook (but no cooking talent), and one very unhappy schnauzer. For fans of Jen Lancaster, Jennifer Weiner, and Emily Giffin.   
To an outside observer, Anneke Stroudt is a mess—her shirts are stained, her fingernails stubby, her language colorful. But, despite her flaws, Anneke’s life is close to perfect. She has a beautiful historic house to restore and a loving fiancĂ© who cooks like a dream.

Until Anneke’s charmed existence falls apart when she loses both her job and her future husband in one terrible day. In need of a new start, she packs up her disgruntled schnauzer and moves into her half-finished home, where she throws her pent-up frustration—and what little savings she has—into finishing the renovation.

But at the first step into the house’s overhaul, Anneke is sidetracked when she discovers a mysterious leather-bound book, long hidden away, filled with tempting recipes and steamy secrets from Emma Ditmore-Smythe, the cook for the house’s original owners. Slowly, with the help of some delicious food and Emma’s life lessons, Anneke begins to realize that, just like a flawless recipe, she’s been waiting for the right ingredients to cook up a perfect life all along…

“With the perfect blend of humor and heart, Ballis’s writing is powerfully honest and genuinely hilarious.”--Jen Lancaster

MY REVIEW:
A delicious story that any home owner that is currently remodeling and those who love food will devour.  A detailed story with inviting characters, a refreshing story line and delightful humor all mixed together makes for a recipe of a good read. 3.5 stars

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A heart-wrenching yet ultimately uplifting story of psychological suspense in which a parent is forced to confront what he does—and does not—know about his teenage son, in the vein of Reconstructing Amelia, Defending Jacob, and We Need to Talk about Kevin.

While his successful wife goes off to her law office each day, Simon Connolly takes care of their kids, Jake and Laney. Now that they are in high school, the angst-ridden father should feel more relaxed, but he doesn't. He’s seen the statistics, read the headlines. And now, his darkest fear is coming true. There has been a shooting at school.

Simon races to the rendezvous point, where he’s forced to wait. Do they know who did it? How many victims were there? Why did this happen? One by one, parents are led out of the room to reunite with their children. Their numbers dwindle, until Simon is alone.

As his worst nightmare unfolds, and Jake is the only child missing, Simon begins to obsess over the past, searching for answers, for hope, for the memory of the boy he raised, for mistakes he must have made, for the reason everything came to this. Where is Jake? What happened in those final moments? Is it possible he doesn’t really know his son? Or he knows him better than he thought?

Brilliantly paced, Finding Jake explores these questions in a tense and emotionally wrenching narrative. Harrowing and heartbreaking, surprisingly healing and redemptive, Finding Jake is a story of faith and conviction, strength, courage, and love that will leave readers questioning their own lives, and those they think they know.
 

MY REVIEW:
Devastating, compelling and intense.  This is a read that it still working it's way around in my mind.  It is one of those books that are hard to stop thinking about.   Such a well written, honest and engrossing novel.  It will have you reading past your bedtime and will be one you want to discuss with others.  4.5 stars

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Boston police officer Cooper Harrison never thought he’d go back to his hometown, Harmony Farms.  But when his faithful K-9 partner Argos is killed in the line of duty, Cooper, caught in a spiral of trauma and grief, has nowhere else to turn.  Jobless and on the verge of divorce, he accepts a offer for the position of dog officer in Harmony Farms, leaving the life he spent twenty years building behind. 

And so he finds himself back where he started.  Where his father was once known as the town drunk and  his brother outgrew juvenile delinquency to become a drug dealer.  Where he grew up as ‘one of those’ Harrisons. Cooper does his job with deliberate detachment, refusing to get emotionally invested in another dog the way he had with Argos—until he finds himself rescuing a wounded and gun-shy yellow lab gone feral.  

Cooper never thought he’d find himself going back in order to move forward, and yet Harmony Farms is the one place where Cooper must learn to forgive and, only then, heal. All with the help of a yellow dog. 

MY REVIEW:
A heartwarming book that will make you both happy and sad.  It will warm your heart and you will be happy you read it.  There is hope within the pages and a story that I felt very personally connected to.  I have to say that this book was one that just made me feel.  And sometimes that it what a books needs to make you do, feel and be in the story and not focused on the day to day stresses. 4 stars

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With the compelling narrative tension and psychological complexity of the works of Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, Kate Atkinson, and Michael Connelly, Edgar Award-nominee Lou Berney’s The Long and Faraway Gone is a smart, fiercely compassionate crime story that explores the mysteries of memory and the impact of violence on survivors—and the lengths they will go to find the painful truth of the events that scarred their lives

In the summer of 1986, two tragedies rocked Oklahoma City. Six movie-theater employees were killed in an armed robbery, while one inexplicably survived. Then, a teenage girl vanished from the annual State Fair. Neither crime was ever solved.

Twenty-five years later, the reverberations of those unsolved cases quietly echo through survivors’ lives. A private investigator in Vegas, Wyatt’s latest inquiry takes him back to a past he’s tried to escape—and drags him deeper into the harrowing mystery of the movie house robbery that left six of his friends dead. 

Like Wyatt, Julianna struggles with the past—with the day her beautiful older sister Genevieve disappeared. When Julianna discovers that one of the original suspects has resurfaced, she’ll stop at nothing to find answers.

As fate brings these damaged souls together, their obsessive quests spark sexual currents neither can resist. But will their shared passion and obsession heal them, or push them closer to the edge? Even if they find the truth, will it help them understand what happened, that long and faraway gone summer? Will it set them free—or ultimately destroy them?

MY REVIEW:
This book is gripping, in-depth and engaging.  I thought it was so deep and moving at times.  It has a setting so perfect for the book.  It is one of those long books, that doesn't seem so long because you find yourself lost int he pages of the novel and when you poke your head up it has been an hour.  A really great read. 4 stars


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