Thursday, February 27, 2020

Cherokee Summer by Susan Antony

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Susan Antony will be awarding a free ebook copy of Cherokee Summer to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

When Ace leaves home to spend the summer in Cherokee, North Carolina the last thing she expects to find is a boyfriend—until she meets Cherokee Tribe member John Spears. As Ace and John's friendship blossoms, they find their life experiences mirror each other and they fall in love. Despite hurdles thrown by well-meaning family members and jealous frenemies, the star-crossed lovers remain committed to their mutual belief that the universe has drawn them together. However, when Ace sends John a strange text and then suddenly disappears, the two must rely on their trust in each other to save both their lives and their love.

Read an Excerpt

She sweeps her tongue over her lower lip and puckers up. I wrap my hand around the back of her neck and we both lean forward until our lips touch. I start off slow, keeping the pressure to a minimum. Her mouth is soft and warm and tastes sweet, like fruity gum. I stroke the tender skin behind her ear with the pad of my thumb. She sighs, then opens her mouth, inviting me in.

Holy freaking wow.

Our tongues meet in the middle and slide all over the place. My head pounds against my ribs so hard I wholly expect one to crack. She tastes so fine. I can’t breathe, but I don’t care. Oxygen is something we need on earth, and I’m clearly somewhere else. I brace my knee beneath the steering wheel to keep the lack of gravity from pulling me out of my seat. After all, this kiss doesn’t mean anything.

About the Author:
I am an IT by day, hip-shaker and writer by night, artist whenever possible, and an internet addict. I live in the sunny south with my teenage son and two Cairn Terriers.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Eye of Ra by Ben Gartner

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ben Gartner will be awarding a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?

I don’t remember much before third grade, but then the memories flourish around this time. And many of my memories center around books or, more accurately, stories—either ones I read or the ones I made up in my own head. That time in our human development is such a critical time when the brain undergoes rapid development and we’re feeling the world in a way that, in many ways, shapes who we are to become as adults. Kids in this age group have a vivid imagination and a no-holds barred approach to what might be possible in the world. This openness is what attracts me to juvenile fiction.

What’s your favorite sweet treat?

Ice cream, for sure. I mean, I love chocolate too, but ice cream is by far the winner. Peppermint is my favorite, but that’s a seasonal thing usually, so mint chip is usually a staple. Though I love variety in my ice cream choices as well and have been known to buy whatever the new Ben & Jerry’s flavor might be.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

I wanted to be a movie director. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were my heroes. I bought an RCA video camera---the huge block that sits on your shoulder---and filmed stop-motion scenes with my action figures and choreographed fights with my friends. I tried my hand at scriptwriting at the time, but the format felt odd to me, so usually ended up writing stories instead. Gradually, I faded from directing because I could never quite translate the vision in my head onto film. With that, I gravitated more to books because it lets you imagine the story as you see best, colored by your own life and perceptions. I still love movies, but books are more immersive and engaging.

What would you write in a letter to your teen self?

Oi. In a single phrase, I think I’d say, “This, too, shall pass.” I’m STILL working on not taking myself so seriously. I have a really, really hard time doing anything half-ass. I read someone recently who said they had the same problem, but doing things three-quarter-ass sometimes is probably okay. I’m working on it.

What superpower would you love to have? Why?

Stopping or slowing or traveling through time. It would be a super power that is so, well, powerful. Flying is great, shooting lasers from your eyes would be neat, but with those skills you’re still subject to the effects of time and cause and effect. With the ability to travel through time, not only could you experience the land of the pharaohs and the first flight of the Wilbur brothers, but you would also have no excuse to ever do anything half-ass ever again. After all, if time is fleeting, you have to pick and choose how to spend it. But if you had all the time in the world, couldn’t you experience everything?

Ideal summer vacation.

Hiking through the Alps, which I’m actually going to be doing this summer! We’re very excited. I love mountains. They never cease to instill in me a sense of grandiosity that I don’t get with any other natural scene.

Favorite class in high school. Why?

English, of course! Reading books, writing, talking about the ideas presented – what’s better than that?!

Exploring a mysterious cave in the mountains behind their house, John and his sister Sarah are shocked to discover they’ve time traveled to ancient Egypt!

Now they must work together to find a way back home from an ancient civilization of golden desert sand and a towering new pyramid, without parents to save them. The adventures abound—cobras, scorpions, a tomb robber, and more! The two kids have to trust each other, make friends who can help, and survive the challenges thrown at them . . . or be stuck in ancient Egypt forever.

For readers graduating from the Magic Treehouse series and ready for intense action, dive into this middle grade novel rich with meticulous historical detail.

Read an Excerpt

“Sarah, where are we?” John asked, frozen in place despite the heat. In front of them was a vast ocean of sand as far as the eye could see. It rolled in carved waves, dunes that sparkled in the low-slanting rays of the sun.

Dunes? John thought.

Sarah staggered forward, shielding her eyes from the glare. “I—I—”

It was rare for her to be speechless. And it was kind of spooky, her not saying anything and stepping forward with the jerky movements of a zombie.

“Are you okay?” John followed his sister out into the sand, suddenly very afraid to be even a foot away from her.

“Woo-hoo!” she shouted, jumping into the air in her signature move, arms shooting up in a V shape.

“You’re excited about this?” John snapped. “Sarah, how are we in a desert all of a sudden? Where’s the mountain? The cave?” The incredible moment tickled at his brain, and he couldn’t put two and two together. “Am I dreaming?”

“Yeah,” Sarah said. “Dreaming. We must be dreaming. Together.” She knelt into the sand, picked up a handful, and let it drain out of her fist. “This feels pretty real to me.” She turned around to John as she said it, so he could see the roll of her eyes.

“How could we be in the mountains in one moment and then . . .” He trailed off, watching Sarah’s eyes go up and her head tilt back, taking in something very large behind him. John wasn’t sure he wanted to turn around.

Sarah laughed, her face turned toward the sky, her hand covering her mouth. “So.” She took a full breath. “Cool!”

The curiosity got the better of him. John held his breath and rotated on his heels in the sand. He’d been stunned by the vast golden dunes, but what he saw now made him squeak out a chortle of disbelief.

“What—? How—? Is that—?” John stammered. His finger reached out, pointing to the scene as if maybe he could poke it, like it was a postcard of a giant pyramid and not a real one.

About the Author: Ben Gartner is the author of adventure books for middle graders and thrillers for adults. His writing for both audiences shares an ability to grab readers by their neurons for a thrilling ride, maybe even teaching them something in the meantime. Ben can be found living and writing near the mountains with his wife and two boys.


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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Gouster Girl by David E. Gumpert

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. David E. Gumpert will be awarding a $25 gift card to Garrett Popcorn, then a Water bottle with Chicago flag for a second winner, and a Mug with Chicago flag for a third winner, all randomly drawn via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Gouster Girl is the coming of age, risky affair between Valerie Davis a cute black girl from the South Side of Chicago and nerdy white Jeffrey Stark.

While the two are somewhat smitten they are late to realize that falling in love on Chicago’s South Side in 1963 is a highly risky business for an interracial couple.

Opportunities arise for both of them to help one another out of tough fixes—he saves her from attack at an all-white amusement park and she saves him from injury in a racial brawl at their high school. But as their romance becomes more serious, so do the racial dangers. White police target Valerie as a prostitute and black gang members see Jeffrey as trying to sexually exploit a black girl. Seemingly inevitably, the blossoming romance collides head on with the realities of Northern-style racism one hot summer afternoon at one of Chicago’s most beautiful Lake Michigan beaches, when a racial protest turns ugly, confronting the couple with terrible choices.

Read an Exclusive Excerpt

It was by seventh and eighth grades that I noticed a correlation between an increase in the number of Negro kids and an increase in the problems in my life…like who got to be a patrol boy.

You wouldn’t think getting to wear a white cloth belt that looped over your right shoulder and around your waist and standing on a street corner each morning and afternoon to let other kids pass during breaks in traffic would be such a big deal. Nor would you think it could highlight racial problems. Being a patrol boy always was a prestige position, as such things sometimes are for young kids. But it seemed to be a position available to any seventh or eighth-grade boy who wanted to volunteer.

Somehow that changed when Tommy Sullivan, a skinny brown-haired neighbor kid also in the seventh grade, set himself up as the patrol boy kingpin. The thing I remember most about Tommy’s appearance was that he walked pigeon toed. Because it looked a little strange, it might have become something to make fun of for some kids. But Tommy had a certain attraction, call it charisma, that made his strange gait part of his coolness.

Tommy used his coolness to accept or veto patrol boy candidates. To become a patrol boy, you had to be on Tommy’s good side or he’d pass you over, no matter how badly you wanted the job.

Maybe I remember it so well because of what Tommy did to Tyrone Lamond, who was in my class. Tyrone was a smart Negro kid, a budding Ivy Leaguer, who hung out with Nate and me during recess and gym. When Nate and I became patrol boys, Tyrone decided he wanted to be one as well. Usually it was just a matter of one or two patrol boys giving Tommy the word that a friend wanted to be a patrol boy and, presto, a fresh rolled up white belt appeared and a street corner was assigned.

But when I mentioned Tyrone wanting to be a patrol boy to Tommy, he didn’t just grin and nod his ascent the way he usually did, but instead hesitated. “I’ll think about it,” he said, and walked off in his pigeon-toed walk.

Over the next couple weeks, I savored being a patrol boy. It’s difficult to explain the boost in status I felt standing on the street corner down the block from our apartment, proudly wearing my white belt and signaling other kids to either stop or walk ahead. One of the kids I’d wave through each morning was Tyrone.

“We need you patrolling over on East End,” I’d tell Tyrone.

“Yeah, that would be neat,” he nodded, and a broad smile creased his light brown face, made handsome by a broad forehead and high cheekbones.

But when no word came from Tommy during those two weeks, I inquired again about Tyrone, this time with Nate at my side in the gravel school yard. “I told you I’d think about it,” he said to me, looking down and kicking gravel around, a hint of irritation in his voice. “I’m still thinkin’.” And off he walked in his awkward gait.

About the Author:
David E. Gumpert grew up on the South Side of Chicago, in South Shore and Hyde Park. In the years since graduating from the University of Chicago, he has attended Columbia Journalism School and worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and an editor for the Harvard Business Review and Inc. magazine. He has also authored ten nonfiction books on a variety of subjects—from entrepreneurship and small business management to food politics. His most prominent titles include How to Really Create a Successful Business Plan (from Inc. Publishing); How to Really Start Your Own Business (Inc. Publishing); Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Food Rights (Chelsea Green Publishing), and The Raw Milk Answer Book (Lauson Publishing).

He spent ten years in the 1990s and early 2000s researching his family's history during the Holocaust. The result was a book co-authored with his deceased aunt Inge Belier: Inge: A Girl’s Journey Through Nazi Europe (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing).

He spent much of the last half-dozen years going back to his own roots in Chicago to research and write the historical novel, Gouster Girl. While some of it stems from his own experiences growing up in South Shore and Hyde Park, he also conducted significant additional research to complete the book in late 2019.

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Friday, February 7, 2020

Finding Frances by Kelly Vincent

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kelly Vincent will be awarding a $40 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Retta Brooks thinks her life is on track after convincing her overprotective mom to stop home-schooling her and allow her go to Buckley High. She comes home from a night out with friends to find that her whole world has changed, and she has extremely hard decisions to make. Not to mention finding the answers to questions some people would rather she not know. Is she strong enough for what lies ahead?

Read an Excerpt

“Did he just hit us?” I asked, turning around. I couldn’t see anything behind us except the vague shape of a car with a silhouetted driver—it was so close the headlights weren’t visible.


We were speeding up, already going way too fast for this road, but the car was still right on the truck’s bumper.

I clutched the dashboard as Jack tried zig-zagging a bit to shake the guy, but it didn’t work. Then the truck accelerated, and finally the guy fell back. Jack hit the brakes pretty hard, and I hit the door and was jerked to the floor as we took a corner sharply.

“Retta!” Jack yelled. “Are you okay?” He leaned over and gripped my arm, helping me back into the seat before speeding back up.

I put the seatbelt on before stealing a glance behind us. “I don’t see him.”

“No, I think he might not have made that corner. It’s what I was trying to do, but I never would have if I’d realized you didn’t have a seatbelt on!”

“I’m okay, it’s fine.” I shook my head, having to extricate myself from the top half of the seatbelt to pick up the phone off the floor.

About the Author:

Kelly Vincent wrangles data weekdays and spends the rest of her time playing with words. She grew up in Oklahoma but has moved around quite a bit, with Glasgow, Scotland being her favorite stop. She now lives near Seattle with three cats who definitely help her write her stories. She’s also working toward the Red Earth Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at Oklahoma City University.


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