A Whisper of Leaves: (A Paranormal Novella), by Ashley Capes. (Still 1.00?)

"There are so many things I enjoyed about this book. The mystery builds and makes it quite a page turner by the end. I loved the supernatural element, told so convincingly, it almost seems like an actual Japanese folklore at times. Riko is immediately likable. And what I loved most is the imagery of Mt Fuji and those beautiful yet eerie forests. Ashley Capes is a poet and his power to evoke strong visual imagery is a wonderful element in this story. " -- Amazon Reviewer

When ESL teacher Riko finds an old journal buried in the forests beneath Mt Fuji, a malevolent, untraceable force begins to threaten her at every turn.

But is it all in her head?

The more she studies the journal for answers, the more questions she uncovers. Worse, no-one takes her fears seriously and her best lead appears to be a belligerent old man, whose only care in the world is raking leaves deep in the forest.

With her grip on reality shaken and friendships strained to breaking point, Riko has to discover the truth about the journal in order to put ghosts of the past to rest, as strange events turn deadly.

150 pages, with a 4.4-star rating from 20 reviews.

Love So Deep, by Kathleen Ball. (Still 0.00?)

"The book pulled me in right away! Loved the main characters, Patrick and Samantha. Well written secondary bad characters all played their parts very well. Little Brian grabbed my heart right away and his character added a lot to the story. All in all, a very enjoyable book. " -- Amazon Reviewer

Banned from the wagon train Samantha Foley wanders through the Colorado Mountains. An early winter storms arrives leaving her at its frozen mercy.
Ruggedly handsome Mountain Man, Patrick McCrery comes to her rescue. Patrick, half white and half Indian, he fits in neither world. He lives a solitary life as a trapper. He certainly does not want to get involved with the beautiful Samantha Foley.
Knowing she is leaving at the first spring thaw, Samantha tries to guard her heart but sometimes her guard slips leaving her totally and utterly in love with her handsome hero. When she is finally left in town at the bottom of the mountain, she can't help but gaze at the mountain trail wishing with all her heart, Patrick will appear.
Can love shine through distrust, discrimination, and accusations? Only if it's deep enough.

151 pages, with a 4.2-star rating from 17 reviews.

The Collector of Dying Breaths: A Novel of Suspense (Reincarnationist series Book 6), by M. J. Rose. (Still 0.99?)

"I loved the historical fiction aspect of the novel, and I also really enjoyed the intrigue. I was able to suspend my disbelief when it came to the paranormal aspects of the novel, and I ended up really liking the paranormal parts of the novel. I would defnitely recommend this novel to anyone interested in paranormal fiction or in historical fiction." -- Amazon Reviewer

New York Times bestselling author M. J. Rose's "wondrously original" (Providence Journal) suspense novel featuring perfumer Jac L'Etoile "combines fascinating history, torrid romance, and a compelling mystery" (Associated Press).

Florence, Italy-1533:
An orphan named René le Florentin is plucked from poverty to become not only the greatest perfumer in the country, but also the most dangerous, creating deadly poisons for his Queen, Catherine de Medici, to use against her rivals. But while mixing herbs and essences under the light of flickering candles, René can't begin to imagine the tragic and personal consequences for which his lethal potions will be responsible.

Paris, France-The Present:
Renowned mythologist Jac L'Etoile becomes obsessed with René le Florentin-who may have been working on an elixir that would unlock the secret to immortality. Together with her estranged lover, Griffin, they confront an eccentric heiress in possession of a world-class art collection, a woman who has her own dark purpose for the elixir…and believes the end will justify her deadly means.

Fiery and lush, set against deep, wild forests and dimly lit chateaus, this gothic tale zigzags from the violent days of Catherine de Medici's court to twenty-first-century France. Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants, raves about the book: "Mysterious, magical, and mythical. What a joy to read!"

Sara Gruen (Lynne Harty Photography)

I was fortunate enough to read a preview copy of M. J. Rose's gorgeous new novel, The Collector of Dying Breaths, and was so sad when I ran out of pages. Here, M. J. sits down with me and discusses the specific process of writing this book and answers more general questions about writing.

SG: Can I just say what a joy it was to read your book, and that it was a wonderful coincidence that I did so in a 15th century villa less than an hour from Florence? How did you manage to produce such vivid descriptions of the past in your novel?
MJR: It's a challenge. I spend a lot of time reading art books, studying antique maps and prints, and wandering in museums looking at paintings created during the time period I write about. I also do pretty exhaustive searches looking for and then reading diaries and letters written by people during the years when the novel is set.
I also have some fairly esoteric rituals. I write my first drafts in longhand with an antique fountain pen and a green ink. I used a particular kind of lined journal that's been made the same way for over 100 years. I don't use electric light, and if I can't write in natural light, I actually light candles and burn old incense.

M.J. Rose (Pushett Irby Photography)And lastly, for each novel, I find a talisman from the period that I wear when writing. For Collector, it a was man's silver and amethyst ring that I found in an antique store that in my imagination was a gift Catherine de Medici gave René le Florentin, her perfumer and the man who created poisons for her to use on her enemies.
SG: As you so passionately show, sometimes there's only a fine line between potion and poison. Were you also trying to show that there is the same kind of fine line in the emotions felt between brothers and sisters and between lovers who endure through time?
MJR: I wasn't focused on either of those themes consciously, but it is the fine lines that are the most interesting in life, aren't they? One of the amazing things I learned about perfumes and poisons is how little it can take to turn a perfume or herbal remedy into a poison…one extra drop of an extract or of crushed seeds can make a lovely tincture a deadly draught.
I think it's the same way with people. We have to be careful of how we treat each other. Our emotions swing wildly during the course of a relationship…and it's in the balance that we find our footing.
SG: You had me guessing the whole time…to the very end! Do you have a method for creating that kind of suspense?
MJR: I wish I did because each book might be a bit easier to write. When I start a book I know the beginning of the story, and five or six beats along the way and I know the very end. But I never know how I am going to make the journey, and so as I write I'm actually challenging and surprising myself.
SG: How did you become interested in writing a novel about the idea of capturing someone's "dying breath?" Where did that concept come from?
MJR: I was doing research on another book and learned that Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, who both believed in reincarnation, supported the idea that in death, the soul leaves the body with its last breath. Edison's dying breath, collected by his son, Charles, is in fact on display at the Edison Winter Home in Fort Myers, Florida. I was totally taken with the idea of our souls being expelled in that last breath, and it became the basis of the novel.
SG: Your ability to convey the scents you write about was masterful. I truly was smelling while reading. Have you ever made perfume? Where did your interest in the subject come from?
MJR: I first experimented with making perfume when I was eight years old and read about the process in a book that described mixing flower extracts with alcohol. So I took what I found around the apartment - my mother's rose and lavender potpourri-added some dried eucalypts leaves since I liked their scent, and then filled up the bowl with vodka (which I took from the liquor cabinet). It smelled horrific, but I fell in love with the idea of being a perfumer.
About twenty years later, I was working in advertising-aka Mad Men land--and was assigned to a fragrance launch, from the very first days of naming it through the TV commercials we shot in Hong Kong and edited at the Lucas Ranch. It was a 40 million dollar launch that culminated with the spots running on the Oscars. During that time, I became re-intrigued and besotted with everything about the 8th art, as fragrance is called, and it's a passion that's never left.
SG: You and I have talked about empathy-how important do you think it is to be an empath while a writing a novel. How much more complicated does that make your life?
MJR: I think being empathetic helps enormously, especially in creating full characters. A character shouldn't be all good or all bad - that makes him or her predictable and boring. Take the character who has just stolen a loaf of bread…. Jean Valjean is a criminal who belongs in jail until you learn he took it to feed his sister's seven starving children. The minute the reader learns that and empathizes, they are emotionally engaged. That's when a novel delivers and satisfies the reader (the ways yours always do).
SG: Satisfaction…yes…that's hard to do without using clichés and being predictable. But I thought you pulled off the "happily ever after" in such a wonderful way.
MJR: Coming from you, I'm especially honored to hear that. I was very worried about giving my characters a HEA; most of my other novels have slightly more ambiguous endings. But these characters created their ending…they just let me in on it so I could write it down.

385 pages, with a 4.2-star rating from 136 reviews.

ProxyWar: Book 6 of Spies Lie series, by DS Kane. (Still 0.00?)

When you're an international spy, who said dying was easy?

Yigdal-Ben-Levy used to be the Mossad spymaster, but now he's Israel's Assistant Foreign Minister in D.C., exiled and long out of the game of spying. Diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer, he's waiting to die when he stumbles across a Chinese-Russian plot against the United States. Despite opposition from his Prime Minister, Ben-Levy decides to present his suspicions to the UN General Assembly after the President rejects his intel.

Unfortunately, the UN is in New York City, nearly 300 miles away; a journey filled with Russian and Chinese assassination teams, cyber-attacks that threaten US communications, and a violent snowstorm that has closed airports and made the roads treacherous. Ben-Levy still has some operatives he can rely upon, but it's a threadbare team: Jon Sommers, Cassandra Sashakovich, Avram Shimmel, William Wing, and a few others. Not enough to stop the world war that's about to happen.

The risk? Monumental. The cost if they don't succeed? A Chinese takeover of America's power grid, followed by a military invasion and a division of US land down the Mississippi. With enemies on all sides and the cancer spreading, it will take everything Ben-Levy and his team of spies has to warn the world of the impending war.

275 pages, with a -star rating from reviews.

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