Jan’s Top Ten Books for 2018

I love to look back over the many books I’ve read throughout the year and put together a list of what, in my humble opinion, is the best of the best.

This year I read 37 books and let me tell you, it was no easy task coming up with only ten to put on this list.

I narrowed it down to the books that lingered with me long after the last word. I hope you enjoy my list and will find at least one new read to pick up!

As you can see, most of these authors are members of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB. It’s a great place to look for great books to read!

I have linked each box to the book on Amazon for your shopping convenience!

Day #9 Welcome to WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour #RRBC #RRBCWRW

PLEASE READ TO THE END FOR A NICE SURPRISE!

Blog Tour Banners

Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 talented writers, each having their own special day to be featured on multiple blogs.  Please take a moment after you’ve read the author’s work, to click on the link to take you to that author’s profile page on the  RWISA site.  On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest: SUZANNE BURKE


Suzanne_Burke

“Shielded”

By

Suzanne Burke

I welcome the shield provided by darkness. Those sweet moments when I allow myself to sit in the velvet depth of silence and dwell only on what is to come.

For the past only exists to remind me of the challenges I failed to meet. The things I thought myself powerless to change. I know better now.

I have no room for failure here as I sit wrapped in the warm blanket of my darkness-inspired illusion of safety.

The soft glow of the clock now heralds your arrival. I feel my pulse jump in anticipation.

I check the window … again. No vehicle yet slows to a stop on the rain-drenched streets so many floors below.

I feel the twitch of the nerve in my jaw and suck in the air in an effort to still it.

I remind myself once more that external factors are likely responsible for your late arrival. I know you too well to ever believe that you would be late by choice. You are eternally predictable. That comforts me somewhat.

My neck muscles clench and I stand, stretching my arms and softly willing them to relax.

The clock rolls through another hour, and my calmness begins to falter.

I check through everything that I have prepared in anticipation of our meeting.

Grunting with approval at my readiness, I check the window one more time, and I gift myself a smile as your vehicle draws up and parks on the opposite side of the now quiet street.

The excitement begins to make itself felt and I shiver.

You will arrive soon, and all the waiting will end.

I lick my dry lips and take a deeply satisfied breath.

I hear the sound of the ping the lift makes as it stops on this floor. I hear your key turn in the lock.

I wait as you fumble for the light switch and flick it on. You swear in displeasure as the room remains dark. Now you search for your iPhone and seek out the torch app. The room in your immediate vicinity is caught within the boundary of its fractured light.

I smile.

My surprise still awaits your discovery.

You feel your way slowly along the wall and take a faltering stumbled step into the kitchen. The light switch disappoints you once more.

The language that follows that discovery explodes in the air. I hear you open the refrigerator to confirm to yourself that this lack of light has permeated the entire apartment. You shrug out of your coat and drop it to the floor, uncaring of the dirt and clutter it now lay amongst.

You find the bottle of scotch and slam cupboard doors seeking a glass. There are none. They lay in a disordered mess of unwashed utensils still awaiting attention on the food scrap cluttered kitchen bench.

I hear you curse as you stagger. The booze you’ve been consuming for hours rattles your movements and makes them disjointed.

You sit heavily in the easy chair uncaring of the scattered and dirty clothing that cushions your weight.

You unscrew the lid of the scotch bottle and take several satisfying gulps.

The anticipation makes me quiver now.

I have waited so long for this.

The cigarette lighter grants you a drag of the nicotine that is but one thing on your list of addictions.

The clock ticks over again and moves time relentlessly forward.

The bathroom awaits your imminent arrival and you curse again at your now shaking hands as you seek out your ever-present stash of heroin. You scream in rage and frustration when you finally acknowledge that there is none to be found.

I hear you slamming the walls with your now white-knuckled fists.

I reach across and flick off the power override switch. I illuminate the apartment.

It takes brief seconds for you to lurch back into view.

“Melody? Why the fuck didn’t you tell me you were here? What the hell! When did you get back?”

“I discharged myself from the hospital.”

“Oh. Good. This place is a mess. It needs cleaning.”

“Yes, Charles. Yes, it does.”

I watch you nod your head, pleased at my response.

You check your wallet, quickly counting the bills waiting inside. You confirm your decision, “I  need to go out. Fix me something to eat. I won’t be long.”

“Why do you need to go out again? It’s raining.”

I watch you glare at me for daring to question you. “I need a fix. I’m heading to see Freddy.”

“There’s no need. I stopped by and saw him on the way home. I wanted to give you a surprise.”

You smile for the first time. “Well, now. That’s fine. That’s good.”

“Do you want me to get it?”

You now wear your frustrated look. “Fuck yes. Of course. Hurry up.”

“Sorry. It’s a little hard to walk with my ribs strapped.”

“You’re always sorry. You’re pathetic!”

I access the bedroom and return with his fix, and watch as he draws it up and applies the tourniquet to his upper left arm.

“You broke my jaw again, and two ribs this time.”

You glare at me as I dare to disturb your concentration, “You shouldn’t aggravate me like you do. You know you asked for it.”

The smack hits you, and I watch as your pupils dilate. The sickly smile that you now wear is most unattractive.

I wait.

You look suddenly startled. I watch the confusion on your face turn to fear … and then a moment of understanding colors your now bulging eyes. “Fuck! Fuck, Melody! What did you d…………….”

I wait.

You make a gargled choking noise as you begin to foam at the mouth.

I wait for five minutes and then check for a heartbeat … I smile … there is none.

I need to be certain that reviving you is not possible. Fifteen minutes should do it.

I punch in a number on my iPhone.

“911. What is the nature of your emergency?”

“Oh, God … help me, please! Please! I’ve just found my husband. He’s not breathing. Please … I think he’s overdosed.”

The kind operator took my address, “Okay. Stay calm. I have paramedics on the way.”

“Hurry! Hurry, please, please hurry.”

I turn off the lights and sit within darkness’s velvet cloak. My iPhone torch casts a spotlight on your rapidly cooling body.

I smile.

The rigid look of fear on your now strictured face brings me comfort. “Did you like my little surprise, Charles?”

I hear the sirens approaching.

I laugh in delight as the heady rush of adrenaline-fuelled relief floods my system.

The dawn light is just filtering through the balcony windows. Soon now I’ll have no need to seek the comfort of darkness.

I wait now. I have finally regained control.

 The End

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

SUZANNE BURKE RWISA Author Page

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make an application!

500th

THIS IS MY 500TH BLOG POST!!

TO CELEBRATE, I AM GIVING AWAY TWO EBOOKS (YOUR CHOICE) FROM AUTHOR, SUZANNE BURKE (AKA STACEY DANSON). LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ENTERED INTO THE DRAWING!

 

 

The Alternative – New Release from S. Burke

It is my honor and pleasure to host this author and her new release! I was lucky enough to be a beta-reader for this collection of short stories and I can tell you they are not only compelling but downright riveting! 

Welcome to Day 3 of my Choose “THE ALTERNATIVE” Blog Tour.

With my grateful thanks to my marvelous host.

Thank you for joining me here.

BOOK COVER

BLURB

There are those that cling unreservedly to the lifeboat that believing in Karma hands them so willingly.

They work, they live, and they function in a world that allows them the option of unreservedly trusting that Karma has no deadline.

Until they are handed the spark that ignites them into becoming the instrument of Karma itself.

There are others who have had all they once held to be truths, everything they once stood for and took pride in, torn apart and ripped from them by the hand of a cruel fate.

Then, of course, there are those who believed in nothing and no one, to begin with …

These are their stories.

The stories of people both good and bad, who made the choice to exact “The Alternative.”

***

Today I’d like to share with you a glimpse of the story behind one of the stories.

Part of my book blurb reads

“There are others who have had all they once held to be truths, everything they once stood for and took pride in, torn apart and ripped from them by the hand of a cruel fate.”

This story fits within this premise.

Chapter 2. Human Disinterest.

Within the pages of this particular story is someone I knew and loved. And whilst this is a fictional work, the persona of Jenny Thurston is intensely real.

In the story, Jenny runs a charity organization desperately trying to keep the people that found themselves out on the dark city streets, warm, dry, fed and alive.

Jenny takes up a large television network’s offer to do a feature piece focused on informing the public and making them aware of the circumstances that caused these folks to be out there. She puts up one hell of a fight to protect the unprotected.

My Jenny was barely eight years old when I  met her. I was eleven.  Jenny had the oldest eyes I’ve ever seen. We came from different places, she and I, both of them equally painful and dark.

Jenny spent her entire life fighting cruelty in all of its dark permutations. She inspired me to be stronger, she gave me loving arms without judgment to cling to. She opened her wounded heart to all those in need that she encountered.

She helped me to laugh, and she taught me that I was capable of loving unconditionally.

Jenny lost her ongoing battle with life several years back. She had no fight left in her. She took her own life. It was the only promise she ever made me that she had broken.

I hope I have somehow shared a glimpse of her strength, resilience, frailty and warmth within the pages of this short story.

I miss her still.

Here is a brief extract from the opening of Chapter 2. “Human Disinterest”

Jenny Thurston hung up the phone, then sat in her creaking office chair and gazed longingly up at the brief glimpse of sky visible in the confined space permitted to a two-story building surrounded by towers of concrete and glass.

Brad Levinson hesitated momentarily outside the door, and then he walked heavily, the sound of his intrusive feet deliberately loud to gain his boss’s attention.

“’Sup, Jenny?” he asked.

“I had a phone call, just now. CNN wants to do one of their ‘A Day in the Life of…?’ programs.”

“Wow, Jenny … I mean, hon, that is huge!”

“Oh, it’s huge alright. It’s not a focus on me or our work here they’re after; they want to do a three-part series based on interviews with our street folks. They want me, as the head of Street Angels, to gain them introductions after they have carefully chosen their preference. Jesus, Brad … they don’t give a crap. They just want someone guaranteed to spike the ratings.”

“Well, that would have been a fast conversation. You didn’t threaten them, did you … Jenny?” He looked at her face and found his answer, “Oh, Jenny … not again?”

He was trying hard not to laugh and failed miserably.

“Winter is coming fast, Brad. I don’t have time for this shit. You know we stand to lose a few. The donations always slow down around now.” Jenny smiled and then said, “Anyways, I made them an offer.”

She stood then and stretched her lean frame. “Let’s go over those rosters again for tomorrow night. You know it’s going to get crazy. Friday night and a full moon both at once. I’ll need our most resilient on duty. Can you contact the guys for me, please?”

“Whoa, go back a second, you made them an offer? Please tell me it wasn’t one they couldn’t refuse.”

“Yeah … Don Corleone, I’m not.”

Brad just grinned and said, “Coffee first?”

“Always.”

He laughed again. Jenny was like this most of the time. The other times weren’t so hard to witness, knowing that this Jenny … his Jenny would always come back.

***

Thanks so much for joining in my New Release Promotion. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Again my sincere thanks to my host, and to the great crew at 4 Wills Publishing for organizing my blog tour.

“The Alternative” NOW Available Amazon.com

Author Bio:

Suzanne Burke resides with her daughter and grandson in a small country town located hundreds- of miles to the west of her previous home in Sydney Australia.

Suzanne had long wanted to write, life interrupted and she didn’t begin her journey into the world of writing until she was in her early fifties.

Suzanne has written her memoirs under the author name of Stacey Danson, both her non-fiction books have ranked in the top 100 paid in Kindle on Amazon. “Empty Chairs” and “Faint Echoes of Laughter” continue to earn wonderful reviews.

Suzanne writes her powerful Thrillers “Acts Beyond Redemption” and “Acts of Betrayal” and her Paranormal anthology “Mind-Shaft” as S. Burke.

Suzanne Burke is a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

Amazon Author Page

On TWITTER.

On Facebook.

My Blog

This tour sponsored by 4WillsPublishing.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

The Alternative by S. Burke – Cover Reveal!

 

Hello, and welcome to the Cover Reveal of my New Thriller Anthology

“The Alternative”

The ALTERNATIVE BANNER HEADLINE FOR COVER REVEAL BEST

The Alternative

The Alternative
by S.Burke

Available to Pre-Order NOW.
Release Date: Monday June 18th 2018
Mystery> Thriller & Suspense > Anthology.

It is such an exciting time for an author when releasing a new book! I would be remiss in not sharing my heartfelt thanks to the marvelous people who gave of their time so readily to beta read my latest book. Their valuable insights helped me enormously when crafting “The Alternative”

At long last, I’m able to share the cover and blurb for “The Alternative” my latest Thriller Anthology. “The Alternative ” is due for release on June 18th.

It is NOW available for Pre-Order

I have many good friends sharing this cover across the blogosphere today and tomorrow, so you’re likely to see it pop up in various places. Thank you to everyone participating in my cover reveal splash, and to everyone dropping by to share in my excitement. Here’s my new baby . . .

With much gratitude to Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khaleesi for the cover creation.

Cover Created by Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khalessi

Presenting “The Alternative” A Thriller Anthology.

“The Alternative”

THE ALTERNATIVE COVER IN HIGH RESOLUTION BEST

BLURB:

The Alternative.

There are those that cling unreservedly to the lifeboat that believing in Karma hands them so willingly.

They work, they live, and they function in a world that allows them the option of unreservedly trusting that Karma has no deadline.

Until they are handed the spark that ignites them into becoming the instrument of Karma itself.

There are others who have had all they once held to be truths, everything they once stood for and took pride in, torn apart and ripped from them by the hand of a cruel fate.

Then, of course, there are those who believed in nothing and no one, to begin with …

These are their stories.

The stories of people both good and bad, who made the choice to exact “The Alternative.”

An excerpt from Chapter 1. Picasso.

February 1990.

The tall man stretched his arms and flexed his long artistic fingers. He stood back to gain a different perspective of his latest work of art. He’d spent a great deal of time sketching his outline and was well satisfied with the outcome. Perhaps this one would be the perfection he craved above all else.

His other efforts were upstairs in the gallery, and while they were far from his lofty imaginings, they each represented another step forward toward his ultimate goal. He knew this exhibition would prompt worldwide interest, that was a given. His reputation was on the line. That at least was something he valued.

He grunted and moved the newest piece into the workroom. The more difficult application of his talent needed to begin.

***

NEW YORK JULY 2015

Meredith keyed in her code, shouldered the door open and dropped her briefcase onto the polished boards of the entry. Working on autopilot, she flicked on the light and bent to collect the mail from the floor; throwing it onto the small bureau without bothering to check the sender. She shrugged off her coat and draped it over the arm of the sofa. Too damned weary to be bothered with any external interruptions tonight, she removed the home phone from its cradle and headed to the kitchen to fix enough coffee to sustain the long evening ahead, deliberately ignoring the well-stocked bar. She was well aware that she’d need every bit of concentration she could muster. She removed the Glock from her handbag, and out of habit, she placed it on the coffee table next to the perpetually full ashtray.

Her head was already pounding and she rubbed at her tense neck muscles until her fingers ached. Relief from the unresolved tension still hovered … just out of reach. She held her breath for a moment, stilling her impatience. If all went to plan, this thing would be finally ended. If justice existed at all, it would go well. All the years she’d worked to bring what was the only course left open to herself and the others to completion was coming. ‘Soon now’, was her daily mantra. But the darker visions still danced vividly in her mind’s eye and tormented her rare sleeping hours … it had been that way for almost twenty-five years.

The memory haunted her, dark and unforgivingly brutal. It replayed in clear and explicit detail every time she was forced to reflect on it … and its aftermath.

***

THE ALTERNATIVE IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER

“The Alternative” on AMAZON.COM

Suzanne Burke Amazon Author Page

On TWITTER.

On Facebook.

My Blog

Thank you so much for joining me here today. Your support is very much appreciated.

I would be delighted to hear your thoughts and comments below.

Suzanne Burk is a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

Jan’s TOP TEN Books 2017

JAN'S TOP TENBOOK LIST20171 (1)

#1

For_You_To_See_The_Stars   PURCHASE LINK

Hands down, this book easily takes the #1 spot this year. This is Foster’s first print publication. It is classic storytelling at its best. Foster writes with an uncommon depth of emotion, humor, empathy, and clarity.  Adding another dimension to this collection of short stories, Foster, a seasoned songwriter/musician, recorded a music CD which accompanies the book. Together, they make an unforgettable read/listen!

#2 

Heart_Of_A_Texas_CowboyMarryTexasOutlaw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PURCHASE LINK Heart of a Texas Cowboy

PURCHASE LINK To Marry a Texas Outlaw

Yes, I know there are two books sitting in this spot, but I couldn’t find a way to separate them. This “Men of Legend” series was amazing from beginning to end, and it just happens that parts two and three were both released this year. “Some Legends are born and some are made” describes this series perfectly about a father, Stoker Legend and three sons, Sam, Houston, and Luke. Houston struggles to deal with the death of his bride-to-be in “The Heart of a Texas Cowboy.” I won’t tell you what happens, but a woman and baby girl manage to melt the ice that froze his heart. In “To Marry a Texas Outlaw,” Luke Weston is determined to clear the murder pinned on him and finally be able to step up and claim his birthright, the Legend name. But, he didn’t bargain for the spirited woman who would set his plans awry. In each book of this series, you’ll find lots of old west action, honor, and romance.

#3

Empty Chairs    PURCHASE LINK

This true story from Stacey Danson (aka Suzanne Burke) touched me on such a deep level. It is a tale of horrific child abuse and how one young girl took matters into her own hands and hit the streets of Sydney, Austrailia. The dangers that lurked on the streets were less frightening than what she faced at home, or as she referred to it in the book, “hell central.” This book has 390 reviews on Amazon. That alone is a testimony to the power of this deeply personal story.

#4

May_Lilacs   PURCHASE LINK

The number four is an Angel number and nothing could be more appropriate for this amazing book. The author worked for many years as a psychic detective, assisting with some of the most gruesome cases you can imagine. But, her “near-death” experience as she relates it in this book is extraordinary. I can promise that this book WILL change the way you view death.

#5 

Love The Beat Goes On  PURCHASE LINK

I have read a lot of new-age books over the years and got something good from each of them, but this book by Lynda Filler is extraordinary. Her honesty about the journey from receiving a death sentence for an incurable disease to healing in a rainstorm while a Shaman beat on his drum is not just compelling, but astounding. I loved every fragment of this story.

#6

Circumstances of Childhood final front  PURCHASE LINK

There seems to be a somewhat common thread running through my book selections this year. This story from John W. Howell incorporates a ghost as one of the main characters, and he weaves it all together perfectly. The ending of the story is done in true Howell fashion with an unpredictable and “thriller” conclusion.

#7

letting_go_into_perfect_love    PURCHASE LINK

 

This was the first book I read in 2017 and the uplifting story never left me. The author shares deep personal accounts of heartbreak, discovery, and inspiration. How she chose to rise above the many years of abuse to find self-love is encouraging as well as empowering.

#8

Slivers_Of_Life  PURCHASE LINK

Slivers of Life could not be a more appropriate title for this compilation of short stories from Author, Beem Weeks. Each is like a slice of pie from the whole or pages ripped from someone’s book. I thought I had found my favorite story with “Medal Detector,” but the next chapter, “Forget Me (Not Fade Away)” had me in tears. Emotion drips from the exquisite way Beem weaves his words together to create the stories, and he is a master at ‘Show Don’t Tell.’ If you are a lover of emotionally driven ‘too-human’ stories, this book is for you. It’s easy to read, but the stories linger long after you’ve turned the last page.

#9

Sweet Temptation  PURCHASE LINK

I have read all the books in Sarah Stuart’s Royal Command Series, and until I read Sweet Temptation, my favorite of the series was the first book, Dangerous Liaisons.
Michael Marsh, the Diamond Superstar has millions of fans across the globe, but he’s lonely. When his wife, Lizzie, was murdered in front of him, his world shattered. He didn’t believe he could ever love again. That is until detective Evie Taylor, walked into his office. The author weaves a tangled web of deceit, powerful illusions, and cyberstalkers. Action from start to finish.

#10

This Second Chance eBook Cover  PURCHASE LINK

Again, this story stays with the paranormal thread from my year’s reading. Rachael finally has a chance at happiness with a man who adores her, but strange phenomena continue to occur. Little does she know there is an Angel, the ghost of her ex-husband and an evildwel that are hard at work in the background. The author takes the reader on quite a journey as it all unfolds.

BONUS STORY:

Tempest In Texas  PURCHASE LINK

You read the title correctly. This is a Screenplay by Larry Landgraf adapted from his novel, Into Autumn, A Story of Survival, and it deserves to be on the big screen! We all hear apocalyptic stories – about what could happen if and when our social and economic infrastructures collapse, but Larry Landgraf takes us inside that “what if” world with real people, in what could be real life circumstances.

Trust me when I say it was difficult choosing from so many great books to create this TOP TEN. A lot of the authors listed here are members of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, a place where authors are supported, promoted and lifted up. 

EMPTY CHAIRS – by Stacey Danson – Book #REVIEW! #RRBC

5 star

Empty Chairs

If I could give this book more than FIVE STARS, I would.

Here’s the Blurb For EMPTY CHAIRS: Standing Tall and Fighting Back Book 1

Stacey Danson, lived through and beyond horrific child abuse. This book tells of her brutal beginnings, the streets of Sydney at the age of eleven were preferable to the hell she endured at home. She ran, and those streets became her home for five years. She was alone, ill, and afraid. Stacey also had an unshakeable belief that she would do more than just survive her life. She would not allow her future to be determined by the horrors of her childhood. She reached out for something different; there had to be more to life; if she could only find it. She had a dream of a life where pain and humiliation had no place. She was determined to find that life. Empty Chairs is the beginning of the journey. Now she is living the dream.

And now, my REVIEW:

This true story from Stacey Danson aka Suzanne Burke captivated me from the first word to the last. How could any so-called mother inflict such horrific and sadistic abuse on her young daughter? What kind of sick mind would let her think it was okay to sell her child’s body to soothe her addiction? Sassy-Girl’s mother, that’s who. So, when this child made the decision to run, looking forward to life on the streets as opposed to her current “life in hell,” I cheered for her. Did it matter that she’d beaten her mother severely? Hell no! I cheered for that too. But, this young girl of ten years old couldn’t have been more lost as she struggled to learn the rules of the streets. The daily chore of finding a safe place to wait out the nights proved difficult. Her instinctive distrust of people, in general, was her biggest ally. But, the part of the book where Sassy-Girl celebrated her first ever Christmas broke my heart. As she watched the families play in the park with children who ran and laughed and played, she realized on a small scale just what she’d missed. And the moment she started to think she had a grip of living on the streets, the unthinkable happened. A brutal rape that left her incapacitated for days on end only served to strengthen her resolve to not let herself be vulnerable ever again. And, when she lay sick and unable to move for days, I began to fear she would die. All I can say about this book is that if you think homeless kids on the streets are all thugs or brats, you need to sit down and read this. My heart will never forget this young child and the many others out there today like her. Stacey Danson bared her soul in such a way that at times I almost felt like an intruder for reading. This is a well-written gripping story from start to finish. But, if you are squeamish or faint-of-heart, this book might push you over the edge. And, now I am compelled to read the sequel to this story, “Faint Echoes of Laughter.

Suzanne_Burke

For more books by Suzanne Burke aka Stacey Danson, visit her Amazon Author Page

Suzanne Burke is a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

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