Welcome To Opine – Matthew Marullo

Nine billion years into the future, the rogue planet Earth is captured by a blue dwarf star in another galaxy, eventually culminating in the rise of Homo Sapiens 2.0.

Imagine a member of the ancient humans had buried deep in the earth a quantum computer containing a vast, digitized compendium of humankind’s history and achievements, all preserved within petabytes of quantum memory.

This new human civilization, calling their planet Opine and themselves the Opinions, the first “i” pronounced with a long vowel, were granted the valuable benefit of hindsight. After spending decades studying “Ancient” history, the Opinions endeavored to expunge selfishness from the human genome through a genetic therapy called the Self Suppressor.

But what happens when one person develops a natural resistance to the therapy? Would he then represent a threat to the gene pool? Will the Opinions be able to correct this genetic anomaly, or perhaps adapt it, in the interest of regaining a sacrificed part of their humanity?

One voice may know the answer. The voice of the man who originally buried the quantum computer billions of years ago…

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The Man Who Screams At Nightfall… and other stories by Rush Leaming Banner

The Man Who Screams At Nightfall…
and other stories

by Rush Leaming

January 16 – February 10, 2023 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Man Who Screams At Nightfall… and other stories by Rush Leaming

Thailand. The Congo. Greece. Spain. America…

Four continents and 40+ years in the making.

The Man Who Screams At Nightfall is a landmark collection of short stories depicting a young man on a classic voyage of self-discovery, scouring the earth in search of some purpose in life.

From childhood to parenthood and everything in between—these tales are at times raw and unflinching, at other times poignant and moving.

Get ready for a literary journey unlike any you’ve experienced before.

WARNING: Some of these stories contain strong language, depictions of graphic violence, and sexual situations.

Praise for The Man Who Screams At Nightfall…and other stories:

“A powerful, gritty, and exquisitely written anthology —not to be missed.”

J. Miller, Reader’s Favorite

“A short story collection that excels in its sense of literary psychological growth and discovery. Libraries looking for interconnected short stories that represent life journeys and revelations will find The Man Who Screams At Nightfall…and other stories an appealing acquisition that promises much fodder for discussion to book club readers interested in fictional blends of psychological and social revelation.”

Midwest Book Review, D. Donovan

“Sharply observed, nuanced, precise, and morally challenging…”

“Leaming’s light hand with dialogue and keen sense of human psychology create a book that highlights weighty issues by putting a compassionate human face on human struggles. Sharp, inventive, and deeply moving: a fine literary collection.”

Book View

“Without a lengthy description of the characters, just enough to provide the imagery necessary to identify them, he catches and holds the reader’s attention like no other I’ve experienced in the hundreds of books and stories I’ve read over the years.”

Reader’s Favorite, L. Allen

Book Details:

Genre: Literary Fiction
Published by: Bridgewood Publishing
Publication Date: November 2022
Number of Pages: 150
ISBN: 0999745670 (ISBN-13: 9780999745670)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

…I could see the glow of a fire up ahead of us, and as we reached the mango tree, Pumbu motioned for me to stay low and follow him along a small wall of honeysuckle bushes. We crouched down, and from our hiding place, I saw Kachamba furiously pacing back and forth in his yard in front of a small bonfire. He swung his arms wildly in the air as if he was fighting off something that was falling on him. He dropped to his knees and then suddenly sprang three feet off the ground. Then he began to dance, swaying and spinning his body so close to the fire that I was certain he was going to fall in. All the while he screamed and shouted deep into the empty black night.

He spoke in a dialect that I couldn’t understand, so I had to ask Pumbu to tell me what he was saying. I asked him many questions: Why was he doing this? Who was he speaking to? Was he drunk? What was going on? Pumbu patiently explained to me that no, he was not drunk, and that he really didn’t know who he was speaking to, but that Kachamba’s wife had left him a few years ago, run off with another man and taken their children, and that ever since, he had not been right in the head. He was not from this village and had been kicked out of all the other places he had lived. He came here only because Kachamba’s father, the chief of Kitengo’s uncle, had once saved the life of the chief’s father (Kachamba’s uncle) and so the chief had to let him stay to repay that old favor. It was all very complicated, Pumbu said, and he didn’t fully understand it himself.

I was hardly listening, instead transfixed and horrified by what I saw. Spinning, swirling, shouting, and screaming—Kachamba’s face, so calm and happy as I had seen it earlier that day, was now knotted and twisted like a grotesque carnival mask, like some gargoyle sprung from the lowest depths of hell. The glow of the fire cut fierce shadows and gorges in his face, adding to the haunting vision that I saw.

For a long while, Pumbu and I hid behind the honeysuckle bushes and watched Kachamba shriek and wail and try to push back the night, until suddenly, all at once, he just stopped. Suddenly, he just stood still and quiet and stared at the sky. I followed his gaze and saw another shooting star. When I looked back, Kachamba had disappeared.

“Is that it?” I asked.

“That’s it,” said Pumbu. “He usually only does this for an hour or so.”

“And he does this every night?”

“Almost,” said Pumbu and yawned. “Mmm. I’m tired. I think I am going to go home.”

We left the bushes, went past the mango tree, and said good night. I walked home alone, both exhilarated and troubled by what I had seen.

I entered my room and prepared for bed, but long after I had extinguished my petrol lantern, I lay there staring into the darkness. I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned. It wasn’t that unusual—I noticed that it had been happening a lot lately, that I couldn’t sleep. I got up and found the bottle of Johnnie Walker and knocked back a tall glass until at last I was floating, and at last, my eyes did shut…

***

Excerpt from The Man Who Screams At Nightfall… and other stories by Rush Leaming. Copyright 2022 by Rush Leaming. Reproduced with permission from Rush Leaming. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Rush Leaming

RUSH LEAMING has done many things including spending 15+ years in film/video production working on such projects as The Lord of the Rings films. His first novel, Don’t Go, Ramanya, a political thriller set in Thailand, was published in the fall of 2016. His second novel followed suit in the summer of 2018, entitled The Whole of the Moon, set in the Congo at the end of the Cold War. 2021 saw the 5-star reception of his crime thriller Dead Tree Tales. His short stories have appeared in Notations, 67 Press, Lightwave, 5k Fiction, and The Electric Eclectic.

He has lived in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Zaire, Thailand, Spain, Greece, South Carolina, England, and Kenya.

Catch Up With Rush:
LeamingRush.wixsite.com/Nightfall
Goodreads
BookBub – @RushLeaming
Instagram – @RushLeaming
Twitter – @LeamingRush
Facebook – @RushLeamingStories

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaway entries!
Click here to view The Man Who Screams At Nightfall… and other stories by Rush Leaming Tour Hosts

 

ENTER TO WIN:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Rush Leaming. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.
https://kingsumo.com/g/vnmncc/the-man-who-screams-at-nightfall-and-other-stories-by-rush-leaming

 

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What Meets the Eye by Alex Kenna Banner

What Meets the Eye

by Alex Kenna

January 9 – February 3, 2023 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

What Meets the Eye by Alex Kenna

From debut author Alex Kenna comes a pulse-pounding tapestry of secrets, retribution, and greed for fans of Jeffrey Archer.

Kate Myles was a promising Los Angeles police detective, until an accident and opioid addiction blew up her family and destroyed her career. Struggling to rebuild her life, Kate decides to try her hand at private detective work—but she gets much more than she bargained for when she takes on the case of a celebrated painter found dead in a downtown loft.

When Margot Starling’s body was found, the cause of death was assumed to be suicide. Despite her beauty, talent, and fame, she struggled with a host of demons. But as Kate digs deeper, she learns that Margot had a growing list of powerful enemies—among them a shady art dealer who had been selling forged works by Margot. Kate soon uncovers a dirty trail that leads straight into the heart of the city’s deadly underworld.

Margot died for her art—and if Kate doesn’t tread lightly, she could be the next to get brushed out.

Praise for What Meets the Eye:

“[An] impressive debut . . . Sara Paretsky fans will be pleased.”

Publishers Weekly

“Alex Kenna is the real deal, a true talent. Her prose is stunningly eloquent and characterization masterful.”

Crime Fiction Critic

“A righteous, painful debut. More, please.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Dragging the world of high art down into the muck of Los Angeles’ criminal underbelly, Alex Kenna has created an engaging mystery buoyed by the heart of its heroine, Kate Myles. Trying to win against stacked decks in her professional and personal lives, Myles’ resilience and hustle makes her an easy hero to stand up and cheer for.”

James Queally, author of the Russel Avery novels and Los Angeles Times crime reporter

“With the sure hand of an old master, Alex Kenna’s debut blurs the line between catharsis and crime in this gritty and nimble noir mystery. When a routine investigation into the apparent suicide of art superstar Margot Starling becomes anything but, down-on-her-luck PI Kate Myles must square herself up for the fight of her life or lose it all. Entertaining and provocative, What Meets the Eye reminds us that truth often comes with a price tag much higher—and deadlier—than anything Sotheby’s could ever hope to fetch at auction.”

Katie Lattari, author of Dark Things I Adore

“Kenna gives us the LA crime story we want—a fronded, sun-beaten carousel of depravity and murder, all laced up with tight plotting, sharply hewn characters, and a gripping, original story.”

Joseph Schneider, author of the Tully Jarsdel Mysteries

“A suspicious death dismissed as suicide leads PI Kate Myles deep into a web of blackmail and deceit, set against an intriguing backdrop of shady dealings in the art world. An all too human character, Kate is determined to piece together the wreckage of her life and career, and salvage her fractured relationship with her daughter. With clever twists & turns, and a host of convincing suspects along the way, the plot delivers a satisfying ending, but leaves us with tantalizing hints of more to come from Kate…”

Julie Cameron, author of Nameless Acts of Cruelty

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: December 2022
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 9781639101849 (ISBN10: 1639101845)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | Penguin Random House

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

Six Months Ago – Margot

All week long, I’d felt a fire in my belly. The spirit passed through me like lightning, brushes flying from wet canvas to wet canvas. Cooking was a waste of time, so I ordered takeout and drank whiskey. Sleep was out of the question. I cranked up the music and worked to the beat. Sometimes I sang along, dripping globs of color onto the floor. The paint went on smooth, like buttery icing. After a while, my brushes stayed in their jar and my fingers danced across the canvas. No bristles between skin and cloth.

Soon the images came alive. I’d been studying the Spanish greats: Velasquez, Goya, Zurbaran, Ribera. For them, it was all about bottomless darks with hints of warm, mellow light. I took a break from bold colors, indulging in white and yellow ochre on burnt sienna. The effect was sinister but mesmerizing. One after another, my hands pulled ghostly figures out of a dark void.

I finally passed out around dawn on Thursday, just as the birds were starting to chatter. When I woke, it was midafternoon, and the magic was gone. My mouth tasted of bile and I felt like someone had scooped out my eyeballs and punched me in the sockets.

I wandered into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. One of Goya’s haggard witches stared back at me. My skin was the color of rice pudding. There were purple half-moons under my eyes and a cadmium streak in my hair. I picked at my nail beds, filled with Prussian blue. The thought of cleaning them was exhausting so I didn’t bother.

My stomach let out a growl and I stumbled over to the fridge. Nothing inside was fresh enough to tempt me. I turned to a soggy takeout container on the kitchen table. The waxed cardboard had partially melted, and a puddle of sauce oozed onto the table. A dead fruit fly was trapped inside the congealed orange liquid like a mosquito in amber. I pulled a half-eaten egg roll off last night’s dinner plate and popped it in my mouth. At least it was still crispy.

After lunch-breakfast-dinner, I had an edible and downed a pot of coffee. I tried to get back to work, but the electricity was gone. The images that were so alive last night now looked dull and mannered. A self-portrait smirked at me. I’d given myself a pouty red mouth like an Instagram twat and artificial jolly-rancher-green eyes. It was pathetic. The last desperate cry of a lonely train wreck nearing forty. I felt worthless. I should go jump off a bridge or wander onto the freeway.

I lay on the couch for what must have been hours, binge watching some show about British aristocrats and their servants. Thank God I wasn’t born in nineteenth century England. You can’t be a British lady if you’re a mouthy alcoholic who screws half the landed gentry. I would’ve done worse as a servant. I can barely fry an egg and half the time I’m too paralyzed by my own shit to get out of bed. I’d end up as a consumptive whore blowing sailors for my supper in a London tenement.

The curtains were drawn, and eventually light stopped leaking in from the window edges. I usually do better when the sun goes down. But nightfall didn’t bring me a second wind. It made me feel worse. I poured myself another drink and lit a cigarette.

My cell kept blowing up with a number I didn’t recognize. I’d had this phone for six months and never transferred my contacts over from the last one. Now my caller ID served as a kind of litmus test. If someone hadn’t reached out in half a year, they weren’t worth my time. I let it go to voicemail and turned back to the aristocrats. The only decent one was dead now. This show was making me tired.

There was a knock on the door. Probably the neighbor coming to tell me her baby couldn’t sleep because I make use of my electronics. I ignored it, took a swig of whiskey, and lit another cigarette.

Then whoever it was started pounding. “Margot, open up,” said a loud baritone. The voice was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. His tone had an edge of desperation. Could it be that cop from last week? A wave of dread flowed through me. My hands started shaking and a clump of ash fell on the couch. If I kept very still, maybe he’d think I wasn’t home and go away. No, the TV was too loud. He knew I was in here.

I tiptoed over to the keyhole and gasped. My drink flew from my hand and shattered, coating the floor in alcohol and shards of glass.

***

Excerpt from What Meets the Eye by Alex Kenna. Copyright 2022 by Alex Kenna. Reproduced with permission from Alex Kenna. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Alex Kenna

Alex Kenna is a lawyer, writer, and amateur painter based in Los Angeles. Before law school, Alex studied painting and art history. She also worked as a freelance culture writer and sold art in a gallery. Originally from Washington DC, Alex lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and giant schnauzer, Zelda. When she’s not writing Alex can be found exploring Southern California, toddler-wrangling, and playing string instruments badly.

Catch Up With Our Author:
AlexKenna.com
Goodreads
Twitter – @AlexKenna9
Facebook

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, and giveaway entries!
Click here to view What Meets the Eye by Alex Kenna Tour Hosts

 

ENTER TO WIN:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Alex Kenna. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.
https://kingsumo.com/g/bxymgq/what-meets-the-eye-by-alex-kenna

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours