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Dark Knights

Dark Knights: The Dark Humor of Police Officers by [Bryan, Robert L.]If you ever wanted an inside look into what it’s like to be a police officer in America, then Dark Nights by Robert L. Bryan is exactly what you’re looking for. This book is a collection of short stories that span Bryan’s career in the police and security forces. Twenty years is a long time to spend in such a dynamic field and Bryan shares his experiences with readers. Told in a fashion that makes it easy for those unfamiliar with police work to read, this book is a rare insight into the world of police officers. The way in which he writes shows that officers are human too, no matter what they face.

Reading a genre like crime can be intimidating: there is vocabulary to learn, culture to absorb and processes to understand. This can be a lot for someone who is reading in this genre for the first time. The reason why this book stands out is because it’s a prime example of non-fiction in the genre and it’s reader-friendly. There is no complicated vernacular that the layman would have a hard time understanding. The stories flow nicely and aren’t too jarring when we jump from location to location. The central character, the author himself, has a clearly defined role in each story that he tells. This might not seem like a big deal, but oftentimes autobiographical works, no matter how loose they are, can get away from the author. This is not the case in this collection. It is clear that Bryan’s paid attention to how he wanted to share his experiences with the rest of the world.

There is the right mix of macabre intrigue and humorousness in the stories that are shared. It goes a long way in showing that police officers are human beings like the rest of us. The fact that this is a non-fiction collection might tug at the heartstrings of readers because this means that the people we meet, the things that happen in these stories, all happened to real people. While we might understand that on a fundamental level, it’s another thing to read the accounts of such reality. It helps bridge the divide between a civilian and an officer. Showing the humanity, the slight ridiculousness and the sometimes inappropriate interactions makes the stories come alive and shows how real they are.

Police officers and everything they stand for seem so far removed from the regular civilian. Yes, we appreciate their presence and the work they do to keep our communities safe. But we generally don’t see them as ‘normal’ people like the rest of us. They are special, different, because they hold this position of power and trust. Robert L. Bryan takes his experience working in the force for twenty years and shares bits of it with his readers in Dark Nights. This collection of short stories told from his perspective is a clever way to break down those barriers between ‘us’ and ‘them’. He shows the humanity of officers and gives readers a taste of what they deal with every day. These short stories are fun to read and are worth picking up.

Pages: 345 | ASIN: B0711CB8K2

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Search for Answers

J.L. Phelan Author Interview

J.L. Phelan Author Interview

The Lethal Legacy follows Samantha and her husband as they embark on a dangerous adventure to uncover the family legacy. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

The Lethal Legacy is the third book of a trilogy (The Purloined Legacy and The Perilous Legacy are the first two). Although all three books are stand-alone books, The Lethal Legacy is a continuation of Samantha’s search for answers to solve the additional mysteries of murder, deceit and theft that occurred to her ancestors.  The inspiration for the first book came from some aspects of my husband’s ancestors who started out in Cork, Ireland, and migrated to Bordeaux, France, and later to New York and Sacramento during the late 1800’s. Likewise, The Lethal Legacy loosely uses another facet of my husband’s ancestors that had ties to the cacao industry in South America in the 19th century. All three books required extensive research from a historical perspective which was great fun to weave into the plots.

The story takes place in various exotic locations. What was your favorite location to write for and how did you research these places to get it right?

I had a great time writing about the different cities in Europe and Latin America where Samantha and Brett traveled to solve the mysteries of what happened to her ancestors and their immense wealth. While I have personally been to a number of those places, there are also a fair number of places that are in the storyline that I have never been to so I used the internet many times to explore each country’s culture, topography, and special sites unique to their cities. One of my favorite locations was Cork, Ireland, where the roots of the Delaney family began. While I have never been there, by using the internet (including you tube), it was fairly easy to vicariously experience the locations so that I could use that information and incorporate it into the storyline.

Your characters were always detailed and interesting. What do you find is important in creating believable characters?

I think that it is important for a writer to step into the shoes of each character to determine whether conversations, concepts or plots are accurately portrayed to create a sensation for readers to lose themselves in the story, and hopefully have a desire to keep turning the pages. It is also important for each character to have unique traits such as diction, disposition, or mannerisms that are distinct from other characters. Sometimes, I actually act out the dialogue to see if it is believable so that hopefully the reader is connected and wants to find out what happens next!

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

I don’t have a title for the next book yet, but it is a spin-off of one of the characters in the Legacy Series. I am just in the process of writing the first draft so it will likely be available early 2019—and it will definitely be a murder mystery with a little bit of history, a little bit of romance and lots of twists and turns.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

Six months have passed since Dr. Samantha Delaney faced deadly encounters with a man who had sworn to destroy her and take the $60 million she had received as the last remaining heir to the Delaney legacy—a legacy that had been stolen many decades before. Given the demise of her enemy, Samantha thinks the danger is over. But but she is wrong. When a distant relative sends her a newspaper clipping reporting the 1914 murder of Samantha’s great-great-grandmother in Costa Rica, Samantha and her husband, Dr. Brett Perry, decide to do some preliminary research, never dreaming that their investigation would imperil Samantha once again. Beginning their research in Costa Rica, Samantha and Brett hope to learn about the murder of her ancestor and the loss of the family cacao plantation. What they find is a picturesque country with clear ocean water, pristine beaches—and more danger than they had ever anticipated. Their investigation quickly catapults them into the middle of a very calculated, lucrative, and illegal gold mining operation where the stakes are high enough to make murder a necessity for anyone who gets in the way. Samantha quickly learns that as a beneficiary to her great-great-grandmother’s company, she will most certainly be in the way.

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Arlington Heights Book Trailer

Arlington Heights follows the course of a gifted and beautiful black woman who overcomes the stigmata of a youth of mistakes to become one of the more powerful forces in New York’s fashion and business scene. Arlington Cavanaugh has past her prime as a model and has committed her life to the building of the highly regarded fashion magazine, HEIGHTS. Through the novel she takes a journey that speaks not only to the incredible climb up the ladder of success, but also details all of the consequences of decisions made along the way by a woman so focused on escape from her past that she nearly loses her soul.

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Stranded on Thin Ice

Sharon CassanoLochman’s Stranded on Thin Ice takes readers through a day-long class on Murphy’s Law. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Pre-teens Tanner and Richie quickly became fast friends on the day of an ice fishing derby. Tanner had bad luck at last year’s competition, but now has his eyes set on a brand new prize 4-wheeler and a fishing hut. Richie, a little less starry-eyed, is sort of dragged along for the ride with his uncle, at least at first. Reminiscent of John Reynolds Gardiner’s Little Willy of Stone Fox, the boys are thrown into a winter competition against big, burly, sometimes ornery grown men. They are met with one obstacle after another as they brace themselves against both the competition and the frigid, unforgiving weather conditions.

We meet loveable 12-year-old Tanner Phillips as he’s pushing his way through a mob of bearded, smoky-smelling men at Popper’s Bait Shop in an all-but-failed attempt to buy minnows. Tanner gets passed over time and time again as he juts his money out at Dom, the store owner. Tanner feels invisible to everyone over the age of 13. He feels overlooked by his father, the bait shop patrons, Dom, and basically everyone else in the world. He doesn’t feel like a little kid anymore, but he knows everyone else still sees him that way. He also feels that he is a failure in the eyes of his father. He made a pretty big mistake at last year’s ice fishing derby by letting a fishing pole get yanked down through the ice by a fish. He paid for it by staring into an ice hole empty-handed for the entire day, and still has not lived it down. He desperately wants to redeem himself and gain the approval of his father by winning the grand prize for the derby, a new 4-wheeler and a new fishing hut.

Tanner meets Richie Donald as he decides to just help himself to the minnow tanks. Richie is a tall, skinny boy in ill-fitting clothing. Not only are his clothes ill-fitting, but they are not a match for the frigid day he’s about to face. He is accompanied by a hateful uncle who doesn’t really want him around, but has been forced to spend time with him. He seems like he really needs a friend, and is lucky to have found Tanner.

It isn’t long before Tanner’s Dad has to leave Lake Oneida, leaving Tanner to set up the fishing hut and get started on his own. This is the first time Tanner will have to prove himself on derby day. It won’t be the last. Almost instantly, “whatever can go wrong” starts going wrong. Richie isn’t much help through most of the day’s obstacles, but they still work together to meet them head on. Together they face menacing competitors, an unrelenting winter storm, a fight against the possibility of frostbite, and of course, getting stranded on thin ice.

This fast-paced tale of determination, friendship, and redemption is great for readers of all ages. I cheered Tanner and Richie on from the edge of my seat as I watched them navigate through their horrific day. I also hoped for the redemption of some of the more menacing characters. Sharon CassanoLochman did not disappoint in either area. Comic relief provided by the boys’ dialogue keeps things from getting too heavy. The story is written brilliantly, and keeps interest piqued until the very end. I did not want to put it down.

Pages: 170 | ASIN: B07732BKVM

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After the Rain Book Trailer

Author Maria Reinhardt debuts with an exotic family saga about blending love, business, and second chances. In the first Richardson novel, old sensual feelings emerge to test trust, legacy, and family responsibility in the quest for happily ever after.

Can she catch lightning in a bottle?

AFTER THE RAIN is set on the exotic shores of Maui, Hawaii; it is here heroine Katrina Marlowe visits when attending her 10-year class reunion. She is a svelte ex-coed—although she was overweight back in college at the University of Hawaii.

Kat has a lot of hidden talents (she’s a whiz with motors, for one—her calling, interior design, another), and she likes to use them for an element of surprise. She also has a problem. She’s been in love with the sexy, wealthy, Hawaiian property developer, Guy Richardson, since college. And she’s told him so in her series of sensual letters—all of which she thought had gone unnoticed and unread.

Kat’s dedication to her special-needs family and their automotive dealership kept her a shy, hard-working homebody back in Upstate, New York after school; she passed Guy’s perceived apathy off as her insecurity, a penchant for panic attacks, and a weight issue. What she didn’t account for was a second chance, his latter-day response to her letters, and how her unique talents could fulfill both of their dreams.

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Songs to New York Book Trailer

A benevolent woman of quiet mystery who smiles in welcome greeting each time one visits her; whose distinct perfume is remembered long after one’s departure:

Author Myrtle Brooks’ love affair with the Big Apple served in ten allegorical slices depicting everyday people experiencing miraculous events throughout the five boroughs. “The Sanctity of the Mails:” observed in Heaven via the Brooklyn Post Office. A Staten Island-raised engineer who escapes city living, only to find the city within himself. A mysterious floor in a Queens apartment building reachable through attainment alone.

Songs to New York crosses the threshold between impossible and occurrence: “Only in New York.”

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Dark Passenger Book Trailer

Once they said…”God Himself could not sink her!”

On board the RMS TITANIC, Professor Dennis Parker believes he’s taking with him to New York the archaeological discovery of a lifetime. As the voyage progresses, passengers and crew become the victims of several grisly murders – not seen since the infamous Jack the Ripper. All clues point to the impossible: the murderer is a 3,000-year-old mummy named “Ka-Re.” Amid all the death and chaos, Parker is ultimately forced to choose between preserving his lifelong discovery and saving himself.

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In Darkness, There is Still Light

In Darkness, There is Still Light (Wheeler Book 2) by [Zalesky, Sara Butler]

In Darkness, There is Still Light rolls in hot, picking up immediately where its predecessor Wheeler abruptly ended and engrossing readers from the very first pages. The Wheeler series centers on the life of professional cyclist Loren MacKenzie, an American living in the United Kingdom, and the physical and emotional challenges that she faces. Darkness resumes where Wheeler left off, right after Loren has won a world championship title in cycling and kissed her movie star boyfriend, Graham Atherton, farewell for three weeks apart as he flies off to film his next blockbuster. As in her first novel, Zalesky is able to squeeze an incredible amount of action into just a few short months of Loren’s life, though perhaps even more impressive is her ability to fit all the thrills in a short 250 page novel that will fly by for readers.

In Darkness should be read after completing the first Wheeler, as Zalesky does not spend much time reintroducing characters or explaining past events. Readers will recognize familiar faces in Darkness, including Loren’s sassy cycling teammates and loyal friends, but Zalesky also introduces new and exciting characters to the mix. While the first Wheeler was a fairly even mix of romance, thriller, and women’s cycling novels, Darkness focuses more on the romance and emotional challenges of Loren’s life, spending more time developing her relationship with Graham and another key character (whose identify I will not reveal!), and spending far less time on the bike. While I missed the road race episodes that Zalesky created in WheelerDarkness takes place during the cycling off-season when competitions are infrequent.

Though In Darkness lacks the nail-biting cycling races and triumphant finish line scenes, it is just as thrilling as Wheeler for other reasons. Zalesky further develops Loren as a complex and sympathetic character as she delves into Loren’s troubled past and fractured emotional psyche. One of Zalesky’s greatest strengths is her ability to develop Loren as such a complex but also relatable star. Though hopefully readers have not personally experienced the abuses thrown at Loren, they can relate to the conflicting emotions she feels as her relationship deepens with Graham and the rollercoaster of ups and downs she experiences after traumatic events. But far from a damsel in distress, Loren remains a strong protagonist that readers will find themselves rooting for wholeheartedly. Where Loren shines, though, her knight in shining armor, Graham Atherton, appears rather dull. Even as their relationship deepens, Graham remains a bit one-dimensional as the Shakespeare-quoting, jaw-dropping handsome actor. But, trusting our protagonist Loren’s judgment, I will give Graham the benefit of the doubt and hope that Zalesky continues to develop him in Wheeler’s third installment.

A solid four-star novel, In Darkness, There is Still Light again offers a unique delight for readers with its combination of romance, thriller, and sports. As the name suggests, Darkness tackles challenging and sensitive issues, especially physical and emotional abuse, but Zalesky successfully handles these with depth, grace, and realism. There is never a dull page with Loren, and the few months of Loren’s life covered in Darkness fly by, ending abruptly once more and leaving readers ready for the next race, which is certain to be just as exciting as those in Wheeler and In Darkness, There is Still Light.

Pages: 295 | ASIN: B07BT52785

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A Life Beneath The Shield

Lawrence Hoffman Author Interview

Lawrence Hoffman Author Interview

Turning Blue: A Life Beneath the Shield is the story of your life, from childhood to retirement, told with an honesty that lays bare some remarkable and sometimes scary moments in your life. What was the inspiration that made you want to write a memoir?

I lived only 25 miles from where I worked and grew up in a middle class neighbor that was so different from where I now went to work. It was definitely cultural shock for me. This was early 80’s and crack was on the scene and people were dying by the thousands. Life, in a sense, was cheap. As a young cop I often wondered why people hated me when I was on patrol. I got to see the anger in their eyes just walking down the street. I later realized they hated the uniform and what it represented. I wanted people to know that there was a person in that uniform. So I used what God gave me and used my life experiences to show that as people we are not that different, we all have struggles and lose, and that there was “A Life Beneath The Shield” and so came part of the title to my memoir.

Each chapter tells a story from your life. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

I found it to be a very cathartic experience writing about my life. There were many difficult areas to write about. Certainly one that was hard was the passing of my mother and coming to terms with our relationship. But the most difficult was the chapter regarding 9/11. This event changed the world and the way we live. A lot of innocent people lost their life that day. But what hurts the most is that first responders are continuing dying every day and a lot more are suffering from the after effects of that day. Many are in treatment for cancer and other health issues related to 9/11. I have written a stage play based on this chapter of my book. A working title for the play is: “9/11…Never Forget…I can’t”.

You retired from the New York Police Department after 20 years. What is one common misconception you find people have about police officers and detectives?

I believe most people base their opinions of cops either on a one-time, first-hand bad experience or form their opinion from a news story, or a second or third-hand story. Cops are human beings. We make mistakes. we hurt, we bleed, we cry… more than you will ever know. There are good and bad in every profession. Priests-teachers-CEOs…you name it. Police officers are faced with life and death situations every day and only have a split second to decide a course of action. We have families and friends who we love, and who love us. It is our duty to make sure we come home safe. Believe me, no cop ever wants to fire his gun in the line of duty. The responsibility and consequences are enormous. We are truly here to serve and protect.

Are you working on another book? If so, what is it about and when will it be available?

I have written an unpublished novel titled: “Core Four”. I have written a screenplay with Erik Wolter which is currently being reviewed by some interested production companies. It is a coming of age story about four 11 year old boys. Danny’s struggles with the loss of his father (cop) to 9/11 related disease and his expectations. Danny and his 3 closest friends go on an adventure that brings them face to face with a gang of thugs and find a hero in the most unlikely person.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Turning Blue: A Life Beneath the Shield by [Hoffman, Lawrence]As a kid growing up on Long Island, I struggled with an unknown psychological need to wear a uniform and a strong desire to be a part of an organization. My search would take me through Little League, Cub Scouts, and various fraternal organizations. This desire would only be fulfilled after joining the NYPD in February of 1984.

Somewhere during my twenty-year career, I was transformed from that kid into a veteran New York City police detective. This is my evolution from a middle-class suburban kid with simple values who naively thought the “projects” were a homework assignment into a veteran detective working in some of the most unforgiving neighborhoods of New York City. With this transformation comes the ability to separate the daily exposure to the dark side of human nature from your own life-sustaining core beliefs. Many will fail to acquire this ability and fall victim to drugs, alcohol, divorce, crime, and even suicide. This is a process which I have come to call Turning Blue.

This is my story of how I dealt with life-changing experiences at home while my gun belt and uniform hung safely in my locker. In my twenty years of experience as a police officer, I can honestly say that I have been scared and feared for my life. Could you go back to work after crying yourself to sleep, reliving your partner’s screams as he lay bleeding to death in the backseat of your unmarked car, and the only thing keeping your heart in your chest was your department-issued bulletproof vest?

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Turning Blue: A Life Beneath the Shield

Turning Blue: A Life Beneath the Shield by [Hoffman, Lawrence]

Turning Blue: A Life Beneath the Shield is like reading Lawrence Hoffman’s diary. This is a not a fiction novel, it is all real life told from Hoffman’s voice. The book starts out when Lawrence is just a boy and his fascination with uniforms. We walk though his college and young adult life as he takes different jobs and finds his way eventually ending up taking the police officer exam for the NYPD. From here the book is a series of stories, like sitting and listening to a relative recount their life. As a reader you get to hear his emotions, see what he sees, and experience life on the New York city streets from the eyes of the police from the moment he takes his exam, to his retirement over 20 years later.

One of the first things that grabbed me in this book was the details of New York, Lawrence describing growing up on Long Island (LI) and the city boroughs and bodegas it was almost nostalgic. I could imagine his life growing up on LI with his friends and their experiences with school and sports and even the crazy neighbor that he ends up respecting and admiring as he grows older. I felt like I was in the city the way Lawrence described the locations and the people he encountered, it made me want to keep reading. Aside from the great detail of NYC, the book is just engaging. The chapters are all individual memories and stories and each one is entertaining. You follow his career and you feel like you are right there with him as his partner. Some moments are horrifying, others are deeply emotional and touching. This account isn’t political, it isn’t written to sway readers to love or hate the police, it is just an account of his life. It is told on such a realistic level, he explains all the police codes and jargon as he goes along so you don’t need to Google search to constantly look up what each code calls for. It is written for the novice level reader when it comes to police terminology. A lot of this is explained though his stories as it was explained to him by his peers. It adds to the authenticity for me, Lawrence isn’t trying to impress anyone with his technical terms or fancy language, it is all just plain and simple to understand so you can focus on the experiences.

Reading Turning Blue: A Life Beneath the Shield is like watching the life of Lawrence Hoffman play out in front of you. You can’t help but become attached and be transported to those streets of New York. Even the scary moment and horrifying experiences you are right there with him and you don’t want to stop reading, you have to keep going to see how things turn out. It is not a book of happy stories, it is not all horror and gore, it is real. Life is full of good and bad, and Lawrence shows it all, he doesn’t hold back on corruption or the really good people that care deeper than you can imagine. This book drew me in and kept my interest all the way though, it is a worthy read and one you won’t regret picking up.

Pages: 394 | ASIN: B01B54DUU6

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