Awake
by Melanie Surani

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB:

In author Melanie Surani’s edgy thriller novel, opera singer Joshua Gray wakes in an eerie art museum exhibit. He comes to believe he’s been kidnapped and abandoned. And he isn’t the only one…

As Josh and four others struggle to piece together their new reality, they discover the museum’s main building has been razed and the place is boarded with no obvious exit. Who left them in the museum and why? How can they escape? The only link that binds them together is a mysterious woman named Blair, who they each encountered before blacking out. Josh unexpectedly finds himself drawn to one of the other captives, a long-time fan named Sophia. Their attraction plunges the group into a dark pool of suspicion. When allegiances shift and pieces connect, the strangers are forced to reassess their situation. Is the real danger inside or outside of the museum?

Suspenseful, romantic and filled with drama, Awake will keep you up all night.






Excerpt:

When he'd been through the exhibit the first time, he'd realized quickly she wasn't following him. The last thing she might have heard was "I can destroy what you love too."

"Shit," Josh whispered, keeping his eye on the door she went through. "Bang bang. She shot me down," he sang under his breath. As usual, music was the first thing to come to mind. When he couldn't play, he still had his voice. Of course, his broken instrument and their current location wasn't her fault. If he hadn't been an asshole, she wouldn't have needed to get away. Since he could talk himself into a hole like no one else, the best thing to do was find his way outside, call a cab, then come back and get her.

A few steps took him to an area where the music wasn't distorted. Tribal drumbeats accompanied shelves of fashion pieces, too impractical and disturbing to wear. A tiara made of straight pins. Corsets pulled so tight the fabric met at the waist. Hats constructed of cages and thorns. Scarves of razor blades.

Drums swelled, stopped. Somewhere in the distance, someone panted.

Josh stopped and crept backward, keeping his eyes on a corseted mannequin's face. Paint had dried in a torrent, as though someone poured a bucket over the head and flash-frozen it. Its facial features looked alive, despite the covering's suffocating quality.

The wheezing breath continued.

From the mannequin?

It wasn't from the recording.



AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Melanie Surani is a blogger, hair stylist, and author with a heart for international travel. When she isn't cutting hair, Melanie is thinking about ways to kill people (for mystery novels). She lives with her husband and cat in New York City, where she is hard at work on her next book with Booktrope Publishing. Melanie is a member of the International Thriller Writers society. Follow her adventures at: http://melsurani.tumblr.com/

Connect With Melanie

Melanie Surani will be awarding a $30 Starbuck Gift Certificate to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click here to go to the rafflecopter page and enter!

 
Liz's thoughts:
a 4-brew review!

A super imaginative and unique concept this novel will keep you guessing all the way to the end.
It only gets a little confusing when some of the characters that "wake up" in their unknown-to-them prison reveal their personalities, making it tough to know who's the victim and who's the bad guy.

Otherwise, a very enjoyable read and one I recommend to anyone who loves their thrillers with a bit of the supernatural mixed in.



 
 


 


Liz's Thoughts:


Awake has an extraordinarily original set up, and one that is not one hundred percent clear until about 2/3 into the novel, which is good at least to me as a reader because I like to try and puzzle some things out myself. As a sort of blend of horror/supernatural/thriller the concept works on a lot of levels. I really enjoyed jumping right in with the villain, when you think you're getting the thoughts of someone else, like maybe one of the victims, and then leaping over into the world of the actual victims.

There was some bit of disconnect for me when the random people are revealed to be sealed up in a sort of cave and some of their personalities turn out to be not that much better than the villain. I don't expect to love or even like everyone in a novel but sometimes it was difficult to discern who, exactly, was doing what to whom, given that it's a bit character-laden. Not that this is bad, just at times, confusing.

All in all, a well-structured and executed and very original novel I recommend with a 4 Brew Rating!





-->

Hey kids, just a quickie today to point out that the Michigan football program has caused more ear worms for yours truly than I ever thought possible!

First we are all "in the submarine" (dare you not to add "yellow" and sing that sucker)...

NOW we have ourselves a--you guessed it--Magic Bus! Yep, the marketing geniuses at Fox Sports have tarted up their bus and are taking it on the road by way of having something to do, one supposes, for the next 13 days. I mean, it's not enough that Michigan is opening its season on (cough) a THURSDAY and AT UTAH....right? Dang. I am gonna be singing that song all day now...thanks Fox!

One wonders what could be next?

Allow me to volunteer a concept in keeping with my role as the MGoBlog's Official Shirtless Harbaugh Expert and Random Some Claim Non-Sports Instigator (1-2-3-4)






Dude! Seriously! Oh and BTW....unless and until you have actually birthed a child, like, you know, physically speaking, I'd watch those metaphors...but it's all right, Liz still loves ya! 
SBNation


So get your bad selves over to the MDen at 10:30 this Saturday and get your pic snapped in front of Jim Harbaugh's....erm.....pants 
(I want it...I want it...I want it....you caaaaan't have it! 


SEE what they have DONE to me?). OR catch it at Comerica Park for the Tiger's game 




(still pulling for the hot manager guy, but you know where MY priorities lie. Oh, I feel a Hot MLB Dudes list coming over me....).

Tick. Tock.....the REAL rubber hits the road in 13 short days!



Go Blue!

Go Cards!
sorry.....priceless....

Love ya,
Liz

Welcome to the Official 21 Days to Go Post from yours truly, the Official Shirtless Harbaugh and Randomness Instigator Expert (not-so-special to mgoblog)!



Whew, well, I don't know about you kids but the concept of "the submarine" keeps, um surfacing in my well-established vivid imagination. 






I mean, seriously, James, that was sort of an odd metaphor for your media-less, open-practice-verboten style of "back-to-school season." I get it though. You're kind of like that guy on the phone with the professional hostage negotiator who says "bring me 5 million dollars (a year), Nike uniforms, helmets with stickers, a juice box from juice box guy 



.....AND a submarine painted maize and blue or the short kid gets a noogie." It's cool. We bow to your (potential) genius.

But you know me, Jim. My imagination is running rampant right now picturing super-close quarters, low oxygen levels and sweaty socks dudes.

I guess I should let it go, of course. I know you're not REALLY in a submarine or anything. And I definitely think getting your bad awesome self out of the limelight so as to focus on the real goal here is crucial, given the 21-days-to-go thing aforementioned.

While I shall leave the deep dive roster evaluation and breakdowns to the real experts, I will say I am terribly intrigued by the quarterback drama no doubt playing itself out as we speak, we with our frosty glasses of iced tea and views of a lovely Michigan summer day. I hear both Shane Morris and that Iowa kid are gunning for the crucial spot--the only spot that really matters in this, the rebuilding millennium for the Block iMage in the eyes of football fans and deep-pocketed alums everywhere. 

I also hear there is no shortage of cockiness on the part of either young man--something we all value in a guy who will hoist the team on his Addidas-clad shoulders in a few short days. And I can just imagine the efforts undertaken to impress the seemingly unimpress-able (and one assumes shirt-clad) Superstar On The Sidelines. My plot bunnies are hopping around like mad, I'll tell you.

On the one hand, the known known: Shane Ow My Head Hurts Coach Morris. He gets the boy-next-door vote to be sure, for a lot of reasons. And I'm that kids mama and I'm all "WTF?" last year.





And of course, Jake Hawkie Ruddock. The kid who makes me wish I had an excuse to need a pediatrician in a few years.


What I really wanna know? Which one of you jokers did THIS to the U of M Athletics Facebook site! Funny stuff boys. And I know funny stuff when I see it. 
Big booty splits INDEED! Are those like "big boy pants?"



But I digress....and don't say you didn't enjoy it.

There are others more or less in the running to be the coach on the field for our man Jimmy. Including a real scary Tom Brady doppelgänger. But we know, at this moment, if they're not out flexing for Liz's imagination, the real battle is occurring between Shane and Jake. And frankly, it's gonna make for one exciting season!

Let the countdown clocks continue...and Liz's overactive imagination continue to conjure what it will...as we prepare for the 2nd Coming...a craft beer firmly in hand! 


Go Blue!
Go Cards (Bonnafon v Gardner et al)

Liz
(NOTE: on 8/25 I'm launching the new Liz Land website and blog. There Will Be Redirection.)
Yo! follow:
@CoachJim4UM
@ShaneMorris_7
@Regsospiffy1
@Willgardner_11
@UofLfootball
@mgoblog
@maizenbrew




Welcome Valerie Mann to the Books, Beer & More Blog today:




Who agrees to an arranged marriage in the 21st century? Beth Malone can’t believe a date request with the 1Night Stand service morphed into an arranged marriage offer. But after a heartbreaking divorce and no knight in shining armor coming to sweep her off her feet, her desire to find that knight and have a family is looking more like a dream than a reality.
After filling out a 1Night Stand questionnaire worthy of the CIA, Christian Ramos is stunned when Madame Eve offers to arrange more than a date for one night: she suggests a wife! What the hell? And after his best friend Jackson Castillo stops laughing, he advises him to consider the offer. Between the fortieth birthday looming on the horizon and his Latino upbringing, Chris is forced to take a hard look at his life. Reality check—time is running out for what he wants—a family and a woman to share his life.
First comes love, then comes marriage isn’t part of their matrimonial situation, but neither Beth nor Christian anticipated the immediate attraction and contentment that comes with saying, “I do.”

I hope you love Chris and Beth as much as I do! Madame Eve definitely knew what she was doing bringing these two lovebirds together!

You could win $25 USD in Amazon funny money to spend on anything you want (heaven knows they get lots of MY money pretty regularly), plus I’m giving away a 3-book e-book bundle—you choose the great reads!—from Decadent Publishing, and a Decadent audiobook of your choice from Audible.com!

Only one thing is mandatory: You MUST purchase First Comes Marriage (http://goo.gl/kjTk6h) from Amazon before midnight tonight. It’s only 99 cents, but for the chance to win awesome prezzies...so worth it!  Email me the receipt—a screenshot of the Amazon receipt or confirmation email is fine—BAM! You’re in the running for the big win!

If you read First Comes Marriage and leave a review, please let me know! I plan to give away ANOTHER bag of prizes to one reviewer at the end of August.





Valerie is the co-owner of a Decadent Publishing, as well as Wizards in Publishing, a company that provides editing and formatting services for authors and publishers. Where to find her:










MASQUERADE
by Hannah Fielding

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB:

Summer, 1976. Luz de Rueda returns to her beloved Spain and takes a job as the biographer of a famous artist. On her first day back in Cadiz, she encounters a bewitching, passionate young gypsy, Leandro, who immediately captures her heart, even though relationships with his kind are taboo.

Haunted by this forbidden love, she meets her new employer, the sophisticated Andres de Calderon. Reserved yet darkly compelling, he is totally different to Leandro – but almost the gypsy’s double. Both men stir unfamiliar and exciting feelings in Luz, although mystery and danger surround them in ways she has still to discover.

Luz must decide what she truly desires as glistening Cadiz, with its enigmatic moon and whispering turquoise shores, seeps back into her blood. Why is she so drawn to the wild and magical sea gypsies? What is behind the old fortune-teller’s sinister warnings about ‘Gemini’? Through this maze of secrets and lies, will Luz finally find her happiness … or her ruin?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCERPT



Luz set eyes on him for the first time from her seat on Zeyna’s back as the fine white Arab mare stepped down the narrow path from the cliff that led to the beach. He was sitting on the edge of the track, leaning nonchalantly against a wild carob tree, watching her while chewing on a sprig of heather. As she drew nearer, she met his steady gaze, spirited and wild. At that moment she had no idea this man would have the power to change her world and create such havoc in her heart, that she would emerge from the experience a different person. Fate had not yet lit up the winding pathway of her life nor the echoes of history along it, but now, in front of this stranger, a disturbing awareness leapt into flame deep inside her and began to flicker intensely.



AUTHOR Bio and Links:




Hannah Fielding is an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: writing full time at her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breath-taking views of the Mediterranean.

Social links

Purchase links


~~~~~~~~~~~~~



The author will award a randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter a $15 Amazon/BN gift card.

Greetings and salutations Liz fans and others.

I am here to present to you my very own take on the college football hotness quotient. I'm ever diligent in this pursuit to find the best looking dudes on the sidelines of the D1 gridiron. You are welcome.

So without further ado, Liz's Top 5 College Football Coaches--Merely a Pre-season ranking you understand:
Number 5




Jim Mora--UCLA Bruins
Arguably the "second generation" is not quite as hot as his silver fox of a dad. But Jim L. has a lot going on. And who doesn't love a football dynasty?






Number 4
Bob Diaco--Connecticut Huskies
Sort of a "boy next door thing" happening here, which has Liz's full approval. He has a thing about rivalry invention, but who can blame him really? UConn has a FOOTBALL TEAM? 






Number 3
Charlie Strong--Texas
This may come as a surprise to some of you. As a Louisville fan I'm used to defections given that up until now, the Cardinals program is a stepping stone to the Big Time. I don't necessarily blame Charlie. He looks nice. I would have preferred him in his 'Ville gear. But nevertheless he makes the Liz list. 









Number 2
Kliff Kingsbury--Texas Tech 
Some call this lovely, Ryan Gosling look alike the "bro king" of college football. Well....ok....I'll admit to not giving 2 shits about Texas Tech but can admire the hell out of THIS. Something about him screams "lawsuit" though. Hope the Raiders are lawyered up. 








Number 1 (and yes, you knew this was inevitable)
Jim Harbaugh--Michigan
Oh bless his khaki-wearing, dad-bod, Ann Arborite soul. The whole "shirtless-gate" had me at "it's hot out here."
We are proud of this man. Here's to him, making it the Real Deal when and where it counts. 
Go Blue.


Yours in shameless man-coach objectifying,
Liz

Damn it's Hot....so I'm reviving one of the more popular Books, Beer & More posts before I collapse under a ceiling fan and wish for fall.....enjoy!




I'm taking a moment to channel one of my all time favorite comediennes and personalities so as to capture your attention…because Liz haz a confession to make….
 But not until you take a second and let me make my confession. It's been a long time coming, about 6 years to be exact, from the moment I received my very first email that contained the words "We would like to publish your…." to just about right now.


You see, I'm jealous.

Yep. I am.

I know we've discussed this before and you think "Oh Liz, spare me your tiring lectures about how not to be a jealous whiny baby on Facebook. We GET it already. Pass us a beer."

But I would say to you, hold up a sec and let me finish.


I am really envious of all you serious romance writers out there. You guys are utterly badass and I truly envy your abilities and talents not to mention your fan bases. 

 Let me give you a little history. Before about 2005 or so I had never read a book in the "romance" genre before. But, in an attempt to do a little "marriage revival" Mr. Wench ordered up a bunch, all of them on the Way Sexy side of the book shelf, from the 'Zon that arrived on my doorstep much to my surprise. I'm a voracious reader as most authors are but I simply never considered books with half nekkid people on the front of them as "options" I wanted to spend time on. 

Silly me.

Yes, the books accomplished Mr. Wench's goal but they went a step further. They finally got me off my "I'll write a book someday" high horse and got me writing. I wanted to craft stories that focused a bright light on relationships like some of my early favs did. Several of the books I read were published by a future publisher of my own, but that, as they say, is a whole 'nother story , rant, blog post.

 I read some really great books and some really horrendous ones and along the way came up with a concept for a series that, after being multiply rejected and pondered for self publishing (which I am SO glad I did NOT do at THAT stage of my fledgling career) found a home with a small but determined publisher: Tri Destiny.

I had a few things published before that, including several books I have since made "no longer available" (see: THAT stage of my career--the one where I thought I was the shit only to realize I needed about 6 more weeks of editing work). I collected my fair share of agent rejections, with good reason as the crap I sent them wasn't worth the digital paper I put it on. 

But somehow…something eluded me, no matter how much I got edited by fabulous, patient, yet firm editors. And I think I get it now!

I just can't do it.

I can't write romance.

Now, we'll save the long drawn-outs about "what is romance/what is erotica" for someone else to get all red-faced about. I'm not here to diss ANYTHING about this genre. It is a literary juggernaut that draws millions of readers and fans and allows tons of earnest, eager writers to live the dream: Making Money Doing What You Love.  

The success stories are myriad, but of course there are still thousands toiling away, trying to Do What The Big Girls Do, and managing to eke out a few bucks a month at it. Say what will about the "thriller genre," in my humble, observatory opinion no fans get fired up about their favorite books quite like romance readers--which has been both good and bad for yours truly.

I'm among those who volley between "eking it out" and "jumping up and down and scheduling a facial" when it's royalty payment time (but for That Book with That Publisher, but as we have already established: whole 'nother story). 

But I will be damned if I can write a decent romance novel. I really wish I could. I know I'd have more fans, more squees, more facials, all of the above. But I sit down to write something that might resemble any one of the successful romance novels out there and I just get all…dysfunctional. 

I could blame the beer, but I won't. 

I'm just screwed up enough to admit it: I'm too cynical to be able to conjure much in the way of "happily ever afters." I tried. I really, really tried. A bunch of times. Phrases like "this doesn't fit what our readers want" clanged around in my head for quite some time but I kept on trying only to come to the conclusion that I just don't have the skills. And a tip of the hat to the amazing(ly snarky) advice of Kristen Lamb to help me just embrace this fact. If you, as a writer or future writer follow no other blogs about writing, you should follow hers.

Let's put it this way, when I set out to write my first self published series (The Love Brothers, coming January and March 2015) my goal was to Just Do It. Just write the dang novel that had elements of realism (the "Liz-ness" as one of my fans put it) but that gave readers what THEY want…characters and endings they expect. Because as I read somewhere in some advice blog or another, letting go of making the book what YOU want and making it what READERS want is the key to millionaire-ism…well, at to least garnering more fans.

But…you know, those dang narratives started sliding off the romance rails too and before I knew it, I had (have) 3 books in various stages of editing that will be "categorized" by the Great Categorizer In The Sky (a.k.a. "Amazon") as Romance but also as Family Saga. And I'm preparing myself for another onslaught of new readers who feel cheated and pissed off and have no problem letting me know that because my characters and plots don't do what they expected they would do.

Sigh.

I use the tagline: Romance For Real Life to describe my books a lot which is apt,  but there are still readers who claim that the "R word" should be no where near my books, which leaves me with a real conundrum. I don't have an agent or a big publisher to help me push the books out there as "mainstream" with elements of romance and humor and…well…beer.  So I'm going up on my Welcome to October Confessional and just saying it now: if you want a book you can predict, I'd advise you not to read mine.  


BUT if you enjoy something that will challenge your expectation and PINKY PROMISE not to judge any of my books against the standard set by so many great romance authors, well….I've got 20 or so books for you to choose from.

As an aside, as I was trying to come up with a catchy catch-phrase for my self published books I thoughts of: 
Romance on Training Wheels (nope)
 Romance that Needs a Breathalyzer Test (double nope) 
Not Your Mama's Romance (uh, no)
Beer Goggles Romance (uh-uh although I am riffing on that with a monthly post called "Beer Goggle Book Reviews")

Whew. I feel better. Again, let me be 100% clear: I WISH I could write romance. I wish I could conjure characters and worlds that millions of readers flock to and turn into TV series and movies. These writers are amazing, talented, prolific, and savvy. It's a club I would love to join but I just don't have the creds.

So by way of ending my confessional, I would invite you to try something for me. GOOD FAITH is (ostensibly) the final stand alone novel of the Stewart Realty Series--a book that is a "best seller" in (go figure) Family Saga and (somehow) Urban Fiction. It has a mixed bag of hardcore, stalwart fans, many of whom are also giant fans of The Giants in Romance. But this novel contains so many elements I could easily categorize it as 


New Adult, Multi Generational, Family Saga with Elements of Romance and a Serious Dose of Eroticism (not Erotica---some of the sex in this book is "awkward" and decidedly not "sexy" but it is real and there is NO rape or any of that nastiness). It's about mature marriages, challenging teenagers, addiction and the strength of friendships in the face of all of the above.

Yeah. You see that the 'Zon has no category for this.

But, by way of "give it a try," it's ONLY .99 (for 520+ pages) until my birthday on December 17 of this year. If I reach a pretty modest milestone of 1000 copies sold by that date my hardcore fans get a sequel. You'll see for yourself that you can easily read this and ONLY this as part of your "Stewart Realty experience." But it's the 9th book (including a prequel) of the series and while I wrote to be a stand alone, your experience with these multi-dimensional (read: sometimes annoying and rant-inducing) characters will be richer if you grab it now for a buck then snag the others and read them in order.

*****YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE READ ANY OF THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES TO APPRECIATE THIS NOVEL I PINKY PROMISE****

Forget the rules...
Forget the formula...
Pick up a Liz Book, grab a craft beer, and enjoy the ride!

Now **cracks knuckles** on with the contest.
Please, feel free to read a free chapter by clicking here.

I'm giving away a Kindle Fire loaded with Liz books, gift certificates and ebooks to celebrate this, Liz's Month of Confession!





Play along here:


And remember….park those expectations at the door BUT know this novel is meant for adults, or the adult-minded anyway (I read Valley of the Dolls at 16 myself). 

And my challenge to you: if you have a cool tag line or an idea about how to categorize Liz Books for Successful and Easy Marketing, feel free to email me! And once you do jump into pool of Stewart Realty and start swimming around, feel free to reach out and let me know what you think. I am also real happy to share a list of my favorite books and authors, some of whom may not be "romance genre" categorized but contain some of the most romantic stories ever.



BUY IT NOW!
Blurb:
Strong personalities—volatile marriages—stressful careers—conflicting goals—difficult children.

Contemporary challenges facing close-knit families form the crucible that forges a new generation.

Brandis, Gabriel, Blair and Lillian emerge from the entanglement of their parents’ longstanding emotional connections, but one’s star will burn brighter – and hotter – than the others.

With a personality that consumes everyone and everything in its path, Brandis Gordon struggles to maintain control as he ricochets between wild success and miserable failure. His life proves how even the strongest relationships can be strangled by the ties that bind.

Brandis and Gabe Frietag are as close as any brothers, bound by both loyalty and fierce rivalry. The strength of their ultimate alliance is tested time and again by Brandis’ choices.

Companions from birth, Blair Frietag and Lillian Robinson share loner tendencies, but come to rely on each other through adolescence. As they mature, both are forced to confront their feelings for the men they knew as boys.

Somewhere between the tangle of good memories and bad, independence and addiction, optimism and despair, the intertwined destinies of the new generation finally collide, leaving some stronger, others broken, but none unscathed.

As a chronicle of three families navigating the minefields of teen years into the turbulence of young adulthood, Good Faith holds up a literary mirror to contemporary life with joys and temptations unflinchingly reflected. Its fresh, real-life voice portrays the sheer volatility of human nature, complete with the hopes, dreams, and unexpected setbacks of marriage, parenthood and “coming of age.”


Get this full-length compelling novel for only .99 for a limited time!
GOOD FAITH BUY LINKS