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“[A] riveting, no-holds-barred account—hitherto untold—of […] the fight against ISIS from Iraq to Syria to Afghanistan. This is a compelling, important story—and Hunting the Caliphate captures it vividly and clearly.” — General David Petraeus.
Dana J.H. Pittard and Wes J. Bryant in Hunting the Caliphate: America’s War on ISIS and the Dawn of the Strike Cell (Post Hill Press, August 27, 2019) bring their senior military backgrounds and unique experience serving in once-secret operations in the Middle East together to create one of the only books on the market with true stories from the war on terrorism in the years following 9/11.
From Hunting the Caliphate: “We watched grimly as the ISIS fighters…took aim with their machine guns and opened fire. Once the smoke and dust settled, we could see clearly that ISIS had executed all eighty men.”
With a combined fifty-plus years in military service, Dana J.H. Pittard, Major General, U.S. Army (Retired) and Wes J. Bryant, Master Sergeant, U.S. Air Force (Retired) give in their new book a first hand look at once-secretive American operations focused on the activities of ISIS. Recounting their personal experiences of the dramatic scenes that splashed across our newspapers at home throughout the past two decades, the authors share their personal testimony to the growing extremism not only in the Middle East, but around the world.
DANA J.H. PITTARD retired from the U.S. Army in 2015 at the rank of Major General after thirty-four years of active duty service. He was a highly decorated combat leader and commanded units at every echelon from platoon through division, including multiple combat tours in Iraq and the Middle East. In 2014, he was chosen to lead the initial U.S. response to halt the aggressive spread of ISIS in Iraq. Dana has earned a B.S. from West Point, a master’s degree from the School of Advanced Military Studies at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University as a Senior Fellow. He is currently a vice president with a manufacturing company in Indiana where he lives with his wife Lucille and their two sons. For more on Dana visit him at www.danajhpittard.com.
WES J. BRYANT retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2018 at the rank of Master Sergeant after twenty years of active duty service. Embedded with Special Forces teams under a Navy SEAL task force, Wes was the tactical lead for a contingent of special operations JTACs to first set foot in Iraq to stop ISIS. As the senior enlisted JTAC to establish the BIAP Strike Cell, Bryant coordinated and controlled the first airstrikes against ISIS in the Baghdad region. He later deployed as the senior Special Tactics JTAC for special operations task forces hunting ISIS in Syria and Afghanistan.
Wes earned a bachelor’s in Asian Studies from the University of Maryland University College. He’s been a lifelong writer, amateur philosopher, and an avid student of the martial arts. He currently pursues writing and editing and teaches Chinese Kung Fu and Tai Chi in his community in North Carolina, where he lives with his wife, Katie, and their two daughters. Wes’ work can be found at www.wesjbryant.com.
ABOUT THE BOOK
“Hunting the Caliphate: America’s War on ISIS and the
Dawn of the Strike Cell”
Dana J.H. Pittard and Wes J. Bryant | August 27, 2019 | Post Hill Press
Hardcover ISBN: 9781642930559 | Price: $27.00
Historical Nonfiction | Military
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR “HUNTING THE CALIPHATE”
“From mass executions, pinpoint air strikes, political and military frustrations and the politics of coalition warfare, ‘Hunting The Caliphate’ is a compelling blend of military history and first person memories of the war against terror—the complex battlefield, the joys of victory, the tragedy of loss and the sacrifice of the men and women who carried out the mission. An insider account from a senior Army ground commander and a front line battlefield airman, the book is a gritty, compelling read for all who hope to understand America’s longest war.” —Deborah Lee James
23rd Secretary of the Air Force and author of “Aim High: Chart Your Course and Find Success”
“Simply Excellent. Hunting the Caliphate is the first account to give sustained insights into the events and personalities shaping the war on ISIS that academics and journalists have failed to capture except in snapshots. Effectively written, and with editing nothing short of first-rate, it is a descriptive and gripping narrative from two contrasting yet intersecting perspectives that offers readers a broader view of the US military campaign against ISIS. As a historian, I applaud the insightful observations riddled throughout that serve to accurately convey an important history—and dispel its myths.”—Mark Reardon, Senior Historian, US Army Center of Military History
In an interview, Pittard and Bryant can discuss:
* The 15+ month-long period it took the Pentagon and CIA to run a classified screening of the book… and how nothing in the book will compromise current operations
* How this is the first definitive book on the military campaign against ISIS actually written by warfighters who waged it
* What led both authors to take part in the initiation of the campaign against ISIS, including their personal and professional struggles along the way
* The authors’ true accounts of the reign of terror of ISIS against the people of the Middle East, and why it was imperative that the U.S. intervene
* The true story of America’s hunting and killing of ISIS forces, senior leaders, and networks
* The authors’ recommendations on the way ahead for the war against terrorism and the fight against ISIS—both as a state and a terror network
* Dana Pittard’s knowledge of Middle East history (i.e. Iraq and Syria and our military involvement there) and the rise of ISIS specifically, and on the strategic decisions and behind-the-scenes political discussions/decisions that went on regarding our war against terrorism and the fight against ISIS.
* Wes Bryant’s expertise on the tactical and operational aspects of our airstrike campaigns, and on the special operations efforts in the war on terrorism throughout Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
An Interview with Pittard and Bryant
From your combat experience, why and how is ISIS different from our other terrorist enemies?
ISIS differs from other terrorist entities in its level of uncompromising extremism combined with an uncanny ability to rapidly expand influence and recruit throughout all parts of the world—both within vulnerable, unstable nation-states and across modern Western societies alike. Added to this is the professed establishment of a “caliphate”—a throwback religious empire based on a twisted and archaic interpretation of Islam—fused with unparalleled financing, organization, and equipping, formidable strategic warfighting capability, and highly-trained military forces.
What are your thoughts on the military campaign against ISIS? Should we have initiated the campaign against ISIS? To what extent should we be continuing in our campaign against ISIS?
There’s been much discussion about how ISIS formed, why it formed, and the role that U.S. decisions in the Middle East for the past two decades played in its up-springing. Although that discussion is important so that we can better learn how to avoid the rise of such a force in the future, in the end it becomes moot. In 2014, the facts in front of us were there was a very prolific, capable, and heinous terrorist army rampaging across easter Syria and northern Iraq. In Syria they had taken advantage of the instability caused by civil war, and in Iraq they had taken advantage of the Sunni-Shia rift that had grown stronger with Iraqi government policies since the U.S. military withdrawal in 2011. We had a strategic and a moral obligation to initiate the campaign against ISIS—to prevent the crumbling of an Iraqi democracy we’d spent years and American blood and treasure to help create. We needed to stop a brutal terrorist force defined by an utter disregard for humanity. Though the geographical “caliphate” has been defeated, in some ways ISIS is still dangerous as a terrorist organization. We must continue the campaign against ISIS in the failed states and ungoverned regions of the world where it may reappear.
Many people say that President Trump is really defeating ISIS whereas Obama failed in doing so. How do you feel about our current and former presidents’ roles in the campaign against ISIS?
The posit that President Trump is defeating ISIS when President Obama failed is simply not accurate. President Trump continued on the path that Obama laid out in 2014 when then-President Obama called for the creation of the successful anti-ISIS coalition, consisting of Middle East Arab allies and our European allies uniting against the common threat of ISIS—and for our Arab partners to carry the weight of the ground fight. There were good and bad policy decisions made by on the Obama Administration. There have been good and bad decisions made by the Trump Administration. President Trump delegated more authority to the Secretary of Defense over strategic and operational decisions than President Obama had previously given. That helped to enable a more fluid command and control and gave more freedom of action to subordinate commanders, which helped in the eventual defeat of ISIS as a state. We would probably have seen a similar outcome under a continued Obama presidency. The real credit should go to our partnered Iraqi and Kurdish military forces on the ground, the U.S. military, Iraqi Shia militias, European allies, and Middle East/Arab allies and other anti-ISIS forces.
Some Americans and even politicians think that America is simply “bombing the Middle East” and drone warfare is unethical and should be considered murder. What thoughts do you have on these perceptions?
We have seen this narrative extend even into parts of our political realm in recent years, and it is a misperception that vastly skews and discredits U.S. efforts in the Middle East as well as the work of our military forces. In 2014, America came to the aid of the Iraqi people and government in fighting a very savage and brutal enemy—ISIS. The use of drones and other airborne platforms has allowed the U.S. military and the coalition to be more accurate with airstrikes, which helped to significantly reduce civilian casualties and collateral damage to infrastructure. The misperception regarding our airstrike campaign and the use of drone warfare completely disregards the incredible successes we have had in safeguarding our Middle East partner nations against the threat of ISIS.
After being in combat in the Middle East, who do you feel is the enemy?
Under President Obama, there was incredible backlash from various factions within the American societal and political realm because Obama would rarely use the term “Islamic extremism” to describe our enemies. But that was not for failing to recognize that our enemies have been defined and shaped by a brand of religious extremism. It was instead an effort to not add to the misperception that America, and the West, are at war with Islam itself. This misperception still exists, perhaps even stronger today, and it is one that leads to anti-Islam sentiment, persecution, oppression, and even “right wing” terrorist attacks against Muslims—as we’ve seen increasingly in recent years. The greatest problem, and irony, with that is that when we designate an entire religion and culture/ethnicity our enemy, we become exactly the same as the very enemy we are striving to defeat. The real enemy is extremism—and it is one that can be painted with many different brushes.
Lisa Braver Moss shares the quiet rebellion and silent strife of a Berkeley student
OAKLAND, California – We think we know the story so well. When you ask most Americans to think about Berkeley, California, in the 1960s, they’ll likely picture flower children calling for peace and anti-war protestors filling the streets. The decade was a turning point in America, a time of radical change. And in the context of her family life, Martha Goldenthal is a radical. But her rebellion isn’t sex, drugs, or rock ’n’ roll – it’s doing well in school and escaping her academia-hating, abusive father.
In her unflinching new novel “Shrug” (She Writes Press, Aug. 13, 2019), Lisa Braver Moss gives voice to a private narrative of the 1960s – one that quietly existed, without headlines and threats of tear gas, but still not without turmoil. Moss draws from her own experience as a survivor of childhood domestic violence who came of age in Berkeley during the seismic ’60s to craft the novel’s lead, Martha, a teenager with a nervous tic (a shrug of the shoulder) who is waging a private rebellion while her peers take part in a very public, nationwide movement.
In “Shrug,” Moss delicately navigates the complexities of family abuse through the perspective of a parentified child and her self-blame and need for control. Martha must endure her parents’ messy divorce, the loss of her father’s record store and livelihood, her mother’s heartless eviction of her from the family home, and an unlikely custody case putting her in her father’s care. Can Martha stand up to him and do the one thing she’s sure she must—go to college?
LISA BRAVER MOSS is the author of “Shrug” (She Writes Press, Aug. 13, 2019). She is a writer specializing in family issues, health, Judaism and humor. Her work has appeared in Parents, Tikkun, Lilith, the Huffington Post and more. Moss is the author of the novel “The Measure of His Grief” (Notim Press, 2010). Her nonfiction book credits include “Celebrating Family: Our Lifelong Bonds with Parents and Siblings” (Wildcat Canyon Press, 1999) and, as a co-author, “The Mother’s Companion: A Comforting Guide to the Early Years of Motherhood” (Council Oak Books, 2001). She is also the co-author of “Celebrating Brit Shalom” (Notim Press, 2015), the first-ever book of ceremonies and music for Jewish families opting out of circumcision. Moss is a survivor of childhood domestic violence and grew up in Berkeley, California. She lives with her husband in nearby Piedmont. They have two grown sons.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Lisa Braver Moss | August 13, 2019 | She Writes Press
ISBN: 978-1-63152-638-1 (paperback) | $16.95 (paperback)
978-1-63152-639-8 (ebook) | $9.95 (ebook)
Martha Goldenthal isn’t your typical 1960s Berkeley radical. Her rebellion isn’t sex, drugs, or rock ’n’ roll—it’s doing well at Berkeley High and planning for college. Her father, Jules, is a raging batterer who, because of his own insecurities, hates academia. Not that her off-the-rails mother, Willa, is much better. Meanwhile, Jules’s classical record store, located directly across the street from the U.C. Berkeley campus, is ground zero for riots and tear gas. No wonder Martha has a nervous tic—a shrug of the shoulder.
Preoccupied with the family situation and barely able to concentrate, Martha plods along in school and somehow manages to achieve. But her parents’ hideous divorce, the loss of her father’s record store and livelihood, a heartless eviction from the family home, and an unlikely custody case wind up putting Martha in Jules’s care. Can she stand up to her father and do the one thing she’s sure she must—go to college?
With its running “soundtrack” of classical recordings and rock music and its vivid scenes of Berkeley at its most turbulent, “Shrug” is the absorbing, harrowing, and ultimately uplifting story of one young woman’s journey toward independence.
In an interview, LISA BRAVER MOSS can discuss:
* Her experience as a survivor of childhood domestic abuse and how it informed her writing of “Shrug”
* Her experience growing up in Berkeley in the 1960s
* How a difficult home situation, in a turbulent time and place, can affect reading and learning
* The question of whether, and to what extent, it is possible to break free of childhood abuse
* Why so many survivors of childhood domestic violence blame themselves
An Interview with LISA BRAVER MOSS
“Shrug” is partly based on your own experiences growing up with an unstable home life in Berkeley, California, during the 1960s. How did you make decisions about what to fictionalize? Why didn’t you opt to write a memoir, and what value do you think fiction storytelling adds to this narrative?
I felt liberated once I realized I was writing a novel. I think in writing my own story as a memoir, I would have felt more constrained or distracted by what actually took place, and the researching of those details may well have derailed me from the difficult task of writing a complete, satisfying read. I would’ve felt more daunted and more vulnerable. That said, fiction writing is no stroll in the park! For example, it required a lot of research about period details that I didn’t remember.
At one point, I mentioned to an editor friend, “This is fiction, not a memoir.” He laughed, and I asked him what was funny. “Memoir IS fiction!” he said, meaning that choices about tone, content, and perspective in a memoir are all subjective decisions rather than objective ones. Nonetheless, writing the story as fiction felt freeing; I loved setting the scenes and I love to write dialogue. But maybe the most concrete reason that it’s a novel and not a memoir is that the book kind of fell into place once I “got” the teenage voice.
Some authors share their personal stories with traumatic experiences, including childhood domestic violence, through the written word and find that the process is liberating in a way. Was this your experience? How did you manage potentially triggering content?
There were certainly parts that were very painful to write, such as the scenes of the father’s violence and those of the mother’s cruelty and maddening self-centeredness. I think I was able to manage this because I was so focused on precision in my writing. There were times when I was crying while writing, but in general my drive to “get it right” overrode the pain of the content.
The liberating thing about writing the story was that it forced me to have compassion for Martha; without this, I discovered, it was impossible to make her a sympathetic character. A pretty big consideration. So I had to adopt a loving attitude toward Martha and, by extension, toward myself. “Yes, this young woman really does deserve to be heard” was my inner motto. It was a way of retroactively loving my younger self. This helped me love my current self in a deeper way.
So, in terms of the painful content, I recognized that being able to be precise about it was key, and that helped me observe the writing adage “the more specific, the more universal.” I was ruthless about cutting out any specifics that didn’t keep the story moving or show something about character. But in general I chose my words and phrases with care as I tried to convey the scary, complex, confusing situation the main character is in.
It was liberating to write the book, sure. But have I completely broken free of the abuse I grew up with? Well, that’s a life’s work.
Martha, the lead character in “Shrug,” seems to stand more on the sidelines of 1960s chaos and rebellion — was this also true of your personal experience during that period? Did you feel like you were on the outside?
I definitely stood on the sidelines during that period, mostly because I felt so overwhelmed by the things I was coping with. At the time, taking part in protests and peace rallies would have felt almost phony to me. How could I rally for peace in Vietnam when in my own life, in my own home, there was an abject lack thereof? Also, as I said, my being on the sidelines had to do with my feeling completely snowed by what I was dealing with – I had no bandwidth for any other moral battle.
To cope with stress stemming from her family life, Martha focuses on music, academic pursuits and the unwavering support of her friends rather than turning to destructive behaviors, drugs or alcohol. Why is that the path she takes?
That’s a human mystery, isn’t it? Why some people go toward self-destruction and others toward achievement? However, it may be a false dichotomy. Martha is on the academic track, but her learning ability is compromised by her extreme anxiety about what’s going on at home. I would argue that her self-blame about her problems and her preoccupation with her family is to her detriment, undermining of her well-being — i.e., a self-destructive impulse. She also buys into her parents’ cruel assessment of her as too rigid, too uptight, too straight-and-narrow. Also, Martha’s pity for her mother, Willa, blinds her to Willa’s cruelty and unreliability. Willa, it turns out, is not a worthy burden; the loyalty only goes one way.
So yes, Martha is an achiever, but she’s also self-destructive in that she sees it as her duty (1) to prop Willa up and (2) to be the one to call her father, Jules, on his awful behavior, and (3) to spend a lot of her psychic energy worrying about the family situation.
I didn’t want to write a book where the main character has a healthy self-esteem. That wouldn’t feel truthful or real to me. But it’s hard to write a character with a crummy self-image and still have the character be sympathetic. It was a challenge to portray Martha in such a way that the reader would think more highly of Martha than she thinks of herself.
Your own experiences as an academic-minded teenager in the height of some of the most rebellious years in American history seem like an anomaly, unlike conventional depictions of this era. Why do you think that is? Do you feel like there’s another side to this generation we’re not addressing? And if yes, do you think your character helps give voice to those people? I’m confident that behind closed doors, plenty of kids were, and are, weathering circumstances similar to what Martha goes through. We have better vocabulary now for things like childhood domestic violence, but the 1960s was pre-Oprah, so to speak. We didn’t talk as freely or articulately about “personal problems” back then. So, it was a radical time — and it wasn’t.
My guess is that in times of turmoil and change, a good percentage of the population finds comfort and orientation in structure. I think this is true independent of trauma. In my case, I discovered at an early age that “getting stuff done” helped a lot with my anxiety. I didn’t see it that way at the time, but looking back, I think my not feeling safe as a child contributed to my having a strong urge toward productivity. It was my way of trying to manage some really difficult feelings.
Did you have a shrug as a child?
No, that’s made up. It’s a stand-in for the ways in which I needed help with thorny problems as a kid, but didn’t get that help. I liked it because it doesn’t have a simple solution. It’s partly physiological and partly psychological — but it’s clear, I think, that in a different family, Martha would have gotten help with it in some way. She may not have developed the shrug in the first place.
Incidentally, transient tics affect as many as 24% of children at some point. So a lot of kids live with this, at least temporarily.
What do you hope readers take away from “Shrug?”
Not all teenage rebels are out smoking, drinking and having sex. Someone can look as if they’re “on the straight and narrow” while fighting a battle that’s invisible but profound. I also hope readers understand a little about how deeply self-esteem and learning can be affected by childhood domestic violence and other early traumas.
In Martha’s case, she’s every bit as affected by her mother’s self-centeredness and cruelty as she is by her father’s violence. There’s not just one “bad guy;” at the end of the day, the mother is arguably more destructive than the father. It’s very difficult for Martha to come to this conclusion about her mother, though, because of her mother’s obvious favoritism of her over her siblings. Martha is slow to realize she’s being manipulated through this favoritism. I want the reader to understand that the way in which the battered parent responds to the situation is key. In Martha’s case, her mother throws oil on the fire. I’m hoping the reader takes from this that domestic violence can be a very complex problem.
Also… I have to admit I’m hoping “Shrug” will spark curiosity among some readers about the book’s running “soundtrack” of classical and rock music.
Why do you think children living with domestic violence tend to blame themselves?
I think it’s easier for kids to blame themselves than it is to face the terrifying truth that their parent or parents, who are supposed to be protecting them, are the problem. With self-blame, the child has the illusion of being able to control the situation: “If only I could be better, this would stop.” As odd as it sounds, this is easier to swallow than the reality that the parent(s) aren’t fully looking out for them. Self-blame fosters the illusion that one can control one’s destiny through sheer effort and perseverance. Well, I tried sheer effort and perseverance as a kid. It didn’t work! At least, not for solving the family’s problems.
What do you think about the word “victim” vs. the word “survivor?”
“Survivor” is now seen as the proper word for those who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, and the like. Generally I think this is more appropriate than “victim.” However, it’s interesting that the word “victim” now has such a negative connotation that people are almost allergic to it. Actually, the idea of having been a victim as a child can be helpful to those who may unconsciously blame themselves for their awful childhoods. It can help shift the experience such that the person really “gets it” that they were not at fault. Just because you state “I don’t want to be a victim” doesn’t mean you weren’t a victim. I think “victim” can be a useful term.
In the book, Martha doesn’t look upon herself as a victim or a survivor. Rather, she sees herself as a rescuer. While she feels deeply hurt and overwhelmed by her parents’ behavior, she focuses on calling her father out and propping her mother up. Again, the “rescuer” identity is part of a system in which the victim/survivor has the illusion of being able to control his/her destiny through action.
You have written about the Jewish faith in some of your nonfiction works. How does your faith impact your fiction writing? How does it play a role in your process?
For me, it’s not so much a matter of faith as it is a matter of community. I think I would have found it grounding as a kid to have been affiliated with the Jewish community and connected to Jewish life. But my parents, like a lot of people who came to Berkeley in the 1940s from New York and other more traditional places, were iconoclasts who didn’t buy into the trappings of organized religion. There were plenty of other Jewish families in Berkeley that were similar to mine in this way.
I’m very involved in Jewish life, and though the book doesn’t have much specifically Jewish content, for me personally it will, I think, be a kind of “coming out” in my community. It’s exciting and scary at the same time.
Music plays an important role in your book. What do you listen to?
I had so much fun with this, because I made Martha’s taste and opinions virtually identical to my own. So I could wax on in my own quirky way about music through her voice, which was a welcome antidote to the book’s difficult content. As for my taste, I love most everything of Bach’s, the chamber music of the classical and romantic periods, and the orchestral works of many romantic and contemporary composers. But I also listen to rock music from the 1970s onward. The heady trance I can go into is actually the same for me whether it’s a beloved passage from Britten’s “War Requiem” or “Silver, Blue and Gold” by Bad Company. I’m not saying they’re equally deep, but they can strike the same emotional chord (so to speak) for me.
Do you listen to music while you write?
In general, I find it too distracting. If I don’t like the music, it feels like a major imposition on my psyche; I’m too angry to write. If I do like the music, it seems to demand more of my attention than the page. But sometimes, if an idea comes to me while music is on (about how to solve a writing problem), I can tolerate the music while I scribble down my idea.
What’s next for you?
I do advocacy work in the Jewish community on behalf of young families opting out of circumcision. I will probably continue with this work and see where it leads in terms of book ideas.
Burlington, VT – Me, Myself, and Him (Delacorte Press, July 9, 2019) is a memoir-fiction hybrid from author Chris Tebbetts, based loosely on his own experience as a teenager. Following the book’s protagonist, Chris, through two parallel stories, the book brings to light how decisions have consequences and how that may affect a teen about to go to college.
“A unique spin on a contemporary alternate timeline story that achieves its effect with uncompromising realism…It’s a wonderful read.” —National Book Award nominee Nancy Werlin, author of The Rules of Survival, Impossible, and And Then There Were Four
The story begins with an accident in which the story’s gay, 18-year-old protagonist, Chris Schweitzer, passes out and breaks his nose huffing whippets behind the ice cream store where he works. From there, Me, Myself, and Him splits into two parallel (and fictional) narratives: one where Chris lies about what happened, and another where the truth comes out and Chris is sent off to live with his famous but difficult physicist father for the last summer before college. Within its dual narratives, the book touches on friendship, romance, family difficulties, and yes, a little theoretical physics.
“Me, Myself, and Him”
Chris Tebbetts | July 9th, 2019 | Delacorte Press
ISBN: 978-1524715229 | Price: $17.99
About the author
Chris Tebbetts: Chris Tebbetts loves, and has always loved, storytelling in its many forms. His background includes a college major in film production; a decade as a mostly-starving NYC-based theater artist; and more recently, fifteen years of writing for kids and teens.
Tebbetts is the author and co-author of many books for young readers. Titles include the #1 New York Times bestselling Middle School series with James Patterson; the Stranded series with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst; the YA novel M or F?; and The Viking. His work has received children’s choice awards in Oregon and Hawaii, as well a Sunshine State Young Readers Award nomination, and a nod on the New York Public Library’s annual list of Books For the Teen Age. He is a native of Yellow Springs, Ohio, a graduate of Northwestern University, and currently lives with his husband in the Burlington, Vermont area.
BEAU & BETT: A Modern Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
After Beau LeFrancois’ mother wrecks Bett Diaz’s luxury SUV, Beau volunteers to work off the debt at the Diaz Ranch. Beau’s family is going broke—unable to even afford car insurance. Beau’s prepared to work, but he’s definitely not prepared for the infamous temper of Bett Diaz. Nicknamed “The Beast” at school, the boss’s daughter finds excuses to shadow Beau whenever he’s at the ranch. As Beau learns the secrets behind Bett’s tough exterior, he finds himself falling for her. That is, until he catches Bett in a lie.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kathryn Berla is the author of numerous nov- els, including The House at 758 and Going Places. She grew up in India, Syria, Europe, and Africa. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, she currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area.
Mankind is only one of the twelve races, born of the twelve energies that created the universe. When the Balance that holds the races and the universe in harmony is threatened, two are chosen to restore it. Told through dual timelines that weave together mythologies, religions, and existential theories from all over the world, Ania’s breakthrough sci-fi/fantasy title, Balance of the 12 (Amazon, July 2019), takes readers on a journey across time and space.
Billions of years ago, the Great War threatened to destroy the universe by annihilating the Balance between the twelve races. The attempt is thwarted by the Visionary Reader and human Protector at a great cost, but their sacrifice has since allowed the races to live in harmony. Until now. With another war looming on the horizon, Samuel, a human, and Jane, a Reader, are the only ones who can stop the war and restore peace. In a riveting tale both fantastical and futuristic, myth and reality collide in a fight for the greater good and the lives of all.
Ania is a translator, author of Balance of the 12, and mother of twin girls. She has spent the past decade studying philosophy and now holds a degree in the field, working especially in the philosophy of politics and existentialism. Watching her children grow up has inspired her interest in human nature, perception, and learning systems. A passionate traveler, her work is influenced by the different locations she travels to and the cultures she encounters. To learn more about Ania and her books, please visit www.aniabooks.com, or connect with her on Facebook or Instagram @ania_author.
In an interview, Ania can discuss:
* Her choice to merge mythology, religion, and conspiracy theories to create her fictional lore
* The inspiration behind the novel
* How experience with hyper prolactinoma disease and how it influenced her interest in science-fiction and fantasy
* Her background in philosophy, and how it impacted the book’s creation
* Why she read almost all of the holy books, existential philosophies, Far East philosophies, and mythologies before and after writing the book
An Interview with ANIA
Where did the idea for this story come from?
The story came to me eight years ago while I was studying existential philosophy. I also watched many documentaries about space and physics which influenced me greatly. The universe has an incredible harmony. Every being acts as though it has some knowledge of existence. Suddenly I thought what if we could decode molecules and see the things that they have been through. This idea made me create the race, Reader. Then the rest followed…
You weave philosophical ideas from all over the world into your story. How did you prepare to do this, and what do you hope the story accomplishes by combining so many beliefs?
To be honest, I didn’t prepare anything. I think this knowledge was in my mind and was naturally in the process of creating the story. It all came together just like pieces of a puzzle. I hope it can show people that no matter what we are taught, we all have one thing in common to share— life.
What drew you to fantasy and science-fiction?
This is a question I ask myself all the time. Could I ever write in another genre? I tried once and have learned a lot from the experience.
If you think writing in one genre is just about loving that genre, I must say that is not the reason in my case. I have always created fantasy or sci-fi stories because it was the way my imagination works. When I was 14 years old, I was diagnosed with hyper prolactinoma caused by a tumor. Through the years of my treatment, I hallucinated and sometimes my perception of time got much slower. It may sound pitiful, but most of the time I had fun because I had full knowledge of what was happening in those episodes and was strong enough to separate reality from my imagination by observing other peoples’ reaction. That period of my life made me ask questions about the human mind, creativity and perception. “What is reality?” was my first question. I am still searching the answer though.
Observing other people, experiencing their diverse perceptions, drew me to the fantasy and sci-fi genre. After a while I wondered if I could write in another genre. I tried writing in horror, romance, action, mystery and comedy. Eventually, I felt I achieved. People who read those stories liked them as much as my other fantasy or sci-fi.
But was I satisfied? So and so, I would answer. I was happy to see that I could write in other genres, and I enjoyed writing them. The creation process is always fun. Yet I found I didn’t feel as good writing other genres as when I wrote fantasy or sci-fi. Creating worlds and races is the best way for me to reflect on my ideas about the world we live in. Sometimes we have ideas or perceptions that we can’t change, and I usually create a world based on these preconceived concepts, then leave my character in that World to see what struggles he or she has. I think many authors may agree with me that a character decides its own path right after it is created. By allowing my character to explore the World I’ve created that may be based off my own ideas, I can see unprejudiced reflections of the world we live in and my own ideas. Sometimes my perception changes and I learn more about myself and our world even when I am still writing. That’s why I love writing fantasy and sci-fi genre. I am mostly interested in who I may become rather than who I was. Writing is my way of thinking and realizing myself.
How did your background in philosophy prepare you to encounter challenging ideas about existence and being?
I have always been a questioner. Philosophy taught me how to ask the right questions. In philosophy every system has to be consistent. There are different approaches on both existence and being. Thanks to my background I can evaluate and learn these different approaches with a clear state of mind because I look at the big picture of the system and theory. In time, challenging ideas becomes a mind game that I actually enjoy.
How will readers be able to connect the story to their own lives?
The story has so many different characters, and although the story is fantasy the characters are like us. They have feelings, challenges— they love and struggle against difficulties in relationships. Moreover the story starts in the present time. Through the series, readers will easily connect the characters with themselves and the people they know. Do your dreams come true? Do you sometimes sense something before it happens? Maybe you are from the Reader race and you aren’t even aware of that yet.
What can readers expect from the rest of the series?
The rest of the series will take place mostly in the present time. It will be full of action and mystery. Who knows, maybe most of the conspiracy theories will make more sense. I hope readers will start questioning the world we live in and ultimately enjoy the story.
Beaver, PA – Prolific, award-winning author Abigail Drake returns to the literary stage with two new novels. She showcases her authorial flexibility with the heartfelt Love, Chocolate, and a Dog named Al Capone (Oct. 15, 2019), and the second installment of her South Side Stories with the spicy and spellbinding Hocus Pocus Magic Shop (June 21, 2019).
Fans of warm, contemporary women’s fiction novels will fall in love with Drake’s layered characters, vivid scenery and detailed storylines. She manages to weave magical elements into romantic storylines while still keeping her tales grounded in reality.
ABIGAIL DRAKE: Award-winning author Abigail Drake has spent her life traveling the world and collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and Economics in college, and is a book hoarder, a coffee drinker, a linguistics geek, and an eternal optimist. She writes women’s fiction and young adult fiction with smart, sassy, funny heroines, and she also enjoys blogging about the adventures of her mischievous Labrador retriever, Capone.
Abigail is the winner of the prestigious 2017 Prism Award for her book Traveller, and the International Digital Award for her young adult novel, Tiger Lily. In addition, she was named a finalist in the Golden Pen, the Golden Leaf, the Dante Rossetti Book Award, and the Cygnus Award for Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction. Learn more about http://abigaildrake.com.
More about The Hocus Pocus Magic Shop
When chemist Grace O’Leary finds a book of magic spells hidden in her Aunt Lucy’s run-down magic shop, the scientist in her itches to try them out. She mixes up a batch of love potions as a joke…and has to face the consequences when they actually seem to work.
Her dream of becoming a professor is in peril, and time is running out to finish research for her dissertation. She can’t handle any more distractions, but the magic shop is on the verge of closing, her aunt has become forgetful and confused, and a handsome reporter named Dario Fontana keeps sniffing around for a story. The last thing she needs is for him to find out about the love potions and expose her as fraud, but she begins to trust him, and the sizzling chemistry between them is soon too powerful to deny.
With her personal and professional life in chaos, and her budding relationship with Dario in jeopardy, Grace is faced with a difficult choice. Fixing what is broken means going against every logical bone in her body.
Can Grace learn to silence her scientific brain long enough to accept the truth about magic…and also about herself?
Abigail Drake | June 21, 2019 | independently published
paperback | 9781093510874 | $16.99
Women’s Fiction | Romantic Comedy
More about Love, Chocolate and A Dog Named Al Capone
Capone, the newly acquired puppy of Miss Josephine St. Clair, owner of Bartleby’s Books, is a literature loving Labrador. Obsessed with Jane Austen, and cursed with a terrible name, Capone hopes to change his doggie karma and prove he’s just as much a gentleman as the heroes in his favorite books…by finding the perfect Mr. Darcy for the lonely and bookishly adorable Miss Josie.
Unfortunately, the only men Miss Josie seems to encounter aren’t Darcys at all. They’re Wickhams, Churchills, and Willoughbys. Even worse, there is trouble afoot. Someone has been sabotaging Miss Josie’s business, and all signs point to her evil ex. Can Capone find a way to save Bartleby’s Books, help Miss Josie find her true love, and earn, at long last, a name befitting a true gentleman?
“Love, Chocolate, and a Dog Named Al Capone”
Abigail Drake | Oct. 15, 2019 | independently published
Women’s Fiction | Romantic Comedy
An Interview with ABIGAIL DRAKE
How do you manage to add magical elements to some of your romances while still keeping them grounded in reality?
If you look closely enough, you’ll find a bit of magic even in the most ordinary things. While writing “The Hocus Pocus Magic Shop,” I wanted to create a world on the edge of being magical, but still very much based in reality. My main character, Grace, is a brilliant chemist and also the direct descendent of a powerful witch. These two oppositional elements to her personality keep the story balanced. As much as her lovely, logical brain rebels at the idea of things like love potions and sorcery, in her heart, she knows that sometimes the truth isn’t always what it seems.
If you could create a supernatural potion, what powers would it have, and who would you give it to?
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a truth serum that actually worked? If so we could give it to any person charged with a crime and know immediately if they are guilty or innocent. And we’d be able to make it mandatory for politicians and television pundits and anyone appearing on “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette.” Not only would it save a great deal of pain and suffering, we’d probably find out some very interesting information as well.
You have a blog dedicated to your dog; what inspired you to create a physical book involving a character like him as well?
I started my dog blog because my nieces, who live far away in Istanbul, wanted me to post daily photos of our puppy, Capone. I did as they asked, and also shared a short story about what crazy things Capone had done the day before. Soon, to my great surprise, Capone had a legion of dedicated followers from all over the world. I wrote “Love, Chocolate, and a Dog Named Al Capone” for them, and also because what could be more fun than writing a romantic comedy from a Labrador’s perspective?
What practices do you have to help hone your writing?
I joined a group called Mindful Writers and it’s been amazing. We go on retreats together, listen to guided meditations for writers, and spend a week in the woods doing nothing but writing and drinking lots and lots of coffee. It’s pure bliss.
What’s the most difficult part in writing romantic scenes?
To make a romantic scene feel authentic, an author needs to focus on the emotions involved and not simply produce a play by play analysis of the physical aspects of the scene. That being said, you also have to get the timing right. Too much intimacy too soon can ruin a good romance, and maybe the same could be said about real life as well.
SAN DIEGO — Carl Vonderau’s debut thriller tells more than a simple story: It comments on the culture surrounding the children who grow up in the shadows of serial killers. Murderabilia (July 8, 2019, Midnight Ink) carries secrets and deception, characters haunted by their mistakes of their families, and the “art” of murder.
William McNary is a private banker who keeps his clients’ secrets — and some of his own. His father is Harvey Dean Kogan, the infamous serial killer known as “The Preying Hands,” responsible for killing thirteen women who abused children in the Chicago area. He brutally butchered them and then arranged their bodies for his disturbing black and white photos. These pictures started the “murderabilia” market, which William can’t seem to escape. Thirty years later, William has carefully constructed his life to exclude his father’s name and history. But a threatening phone call from a man claiming to be his brother shatters his idyllic life and makes him fear for his family’s safety.
Carl Vonderau grew up in Cleveland in a religious family that believed that God could heal all illness. He left that behind him when he went to college at Stanford and studied economics. Somehow, after dabbling in classical guitar, he ended up in banking. Carl lived and worked in Latin America, Canada, and North Africa, and conducted business in Spanish, French and Portuguese. He also secretly wrote crime novels. Now, a full-time author, he also helps non profit organizations. He and his wife reside in San Diego, where their two sons live close by. Check out more at http://carlvonderau.com/.
In an interview, CARL VONDERAU can discuss:
* How a whole career in banking led to writing this serial killer thriller
* His work experience in the US, Canada, Latin America and North Africa and becoming a polyglot
* How a left brained thinker showcased a creative side
* His Christian Scientist upbringing and how this religion is portrayed in Murderabilia
* The long process of writing this book and getting it published
An Interview with CARL VONDERAU
Tell us about “murderabilia.” What is it and what do you think of the institutes that purchase murderabilia for display?
Murderabilia is art and objects owned by killers, like paintings produced by John Wayne Gacy or Charlie Manson. There are murder museums in L.A. and New Orleans and online auction houses that deal in murderabilia. I find it extremely creepy. This art directly or indirectly glorifies killing and the killers. Many states have passed laws to prohibit it, but this fascination seems impossible to outlaw.
Murderabilia has an important message about children of serial killers. What do you hope readers hear from the novel? Politicians? Children in the same position?
I hope that they come to realize that these children are also victims. There are hundreds of children of killers living through post traumatic stress disorder caused by their parents’ crimes. For the rest of their lives, they must deal with terrible guilt and public shaming. I hope that anyone reading this book will empathize with their lives.
How did your work abroad impact the international aspects of Murderabilia? Was it always your intention to write international settings into the book?
Most of my banking career revolved around international work. I’ve worked for many years in Latin America and was doing business for a Canadian bank in North Africa shortly before the Iraq War. I think that international points of view are distinctive but also universal. I didn’t start out writing the book with these settings. But as I explored my protagonist’s past, the settings in Colombia and Algeria offered ways to pull him out of his world so that he could have new perspectives on his family and on love.
Can you comment on why you chose to have the protagonist of Murderabilia a photographer and how photography became therapeutic for survival?
It started with his father, the serial killer. I needed his “hobby” to be both artistic and so despicable that his family would erase him and his art from their lives. In early drafts I didn’t develop how those photographs affected his son, my protagonist. Both Jackie Mitchard, who helped edit the book, and an early agent, urged me to explore this. I realized that my character would search his father’s photographs for clues as to why he didn’t see the evil in his father, and what caused it. But no explanation was complete. He then seized his father’s art to make it his own. He shot photos to take back the narrative of his life. In color rather than black and white like his father.
You’ve expressed a strong passion for nonprofits like the YMCA and San Diego Social Venture Partners. How has your work with nonprofits made literary communities stronger?
I think one of the strong values in both nonprofits and the world of fiction is the appreciation of other points of view. With the Internet and cable news, we can tunnel into increasingly narrow perspectives. But we still crave to broaden our conceptions of life. Through a book, the reader gets into another person or culture’s shoes. Nonprofits delve into other’s lives all the time. It is how they understand people enough to help them.
Religion informs the family upbringing of your protagonist. How did his mother’s fundamentalism function in this novel?
Religion both insulates and wounds the protagonist and his sister. Their mother’s denial of the existence of evil helped enable her husband to kill. Her refusal to even talk about her husband—as if he never existed—prevents her children from processing their feelings. At the same time, her denial is a saving grace. She never lets her children consider that they might carry any part of their father. This shields them from some of the guilt they might otherwise feel, as well as from the suspicion that his murderous genes hide inside them. Denial is both a harmful and saving act.
DENVER, Colo. – Bestselling historical fiction author Samuel Marquis is releasing Book 4 of his World War Two Series, “Lions of the Desert: A True Story of WWII Heroes in North Africa” (Mount Sopris Publishing, February 26, 2019). The novel is the true story of the WWII 1941-1942 Desert War in North Africa and Operation Condor, a story that has captivated the minds of authors, historians, and filmmakers for three-quarters of a century. Based on detailed historical research and Marquis’s award-winning narrative style, “Lions of the Desert” is the perfect read for fans of WWII history and historical fiction.
“Marquis grabs my attention right from the beginning and never lets go.” —Gov. Roy R. Romer, 39 th Governor of Colorado
“Lions of the Desert” is the true story of the legendary WWII “War Without Hate” in the Western Desert of North Africa and Operation Condor. The story is told through the eyes of six legendary historical figures that lived through the epic events: Scottish Colonel David Stirling, leader of the Special Air Service, a brigade of eccentric desert commandos that raided Axis airfields; German Field Marshal Rommel, commander of the Africa Corps who very nearly succeeded in driving the British out of Egypt; Egyptian Hekmat Fahmy, the famous belly dancer, regarded as a Mata-Hari-like German agent in previous accounts but in fact a far more intriguing and ambiguous character in real life; Major A.W. Sansom, head of the British Field Security unit that hunted down Axis spies in Cairo; Johannes Eppler, the notorious German spy of Operation Condor whose real story is finally told; and Colonel Bonner Fellers, the famous U.S. military attaché in Cairo. Fans of “Beneath a Scarlet Sky,” “The English Patient,” and the WWII novels of Ken Follett (“The Key to Rebecca,” “Jackdaws,” “Eye of the Needle”) will enjoy this timeless tale of WWII espionage, romance, and derring-do in the North African desert—with the knowledge that this is how it all really happened.
LIONS OF THE DESERT: A TRUE STORY OF WWII HEROES IN NORTH AFRICA
Samuel Marquis | February 26, 2019 | Mount Sopris Publishing
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-943593-25-5 | Ebook ASIN: 978-1-943593-26-2
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The ninth great-grandson of legendary privateer Captain William Kidd, Samuel Marquis is the bestselling, award-winning author of a WWII Series, the Nick Lassiter-Skyler International Espionage Series, and historical pirate fiction. His novels have been #1 Denver Post bestsellers, received multiple national book awards (Kirkus and Foreword Reviews Book of the Year, American Book Fest Best Book, USA Best Book, Beverly Hills, IPPY, Next Generation Indie, Colorado Book Awards), and garnered glowing reviews from #1 bestseller James Patterson, Kirkus, and Foreword Reviews (5 Stars). Book reviewers have compared Marquis’s WWII thrillers “Bodyguard of Deception,” “Altar of Resistance,” and “Spies of the Midnight Sun” to the epic historical novels of Tom Clancy, John le Carré, Ken Follett, Herman Wouk, Daniel Silva, Len Deighton, and Alan Furst. His website is www.samuelmarquisbooks.com
Researching WWII history and developing a narrative recounting the real history
Overlooked and historically misrepresented men and women in WWII history
How the author learned about the real-life David Stirling, Erwin Rommel, and Hekmat Fahmy, the three main characters of the book, and decided to write about them
How each of Marquis’s WWII novels cover different places and time periods in war
Praise for SAMUEL MARQUIS
#1 Denver Post Bestselling Author
Kirkus Reviews Book of the Year Winner
Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Winner
Independent Publisher Book Awards Winner
Beverly Hills Books Awards Winner
Next Generation Indie Book Awards Winner
American Book Fest-USA Best Book Award-Winning Finalist
Colorado Book Awards Award-Winning Finalist
“The Coalition has a lot of good action and suspense, an unusual female assassin, and the potential to be another ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ [the runaway bestseller by Allan Folsom].” —James Patterson, #1 ‘New York Times’ Bestselling Author
“‘Spies of the Midnight Sun’ is not only a skillful, rapid-fire historical spy thriller, but also a fine source on one of the least-known and most heroic chapters of the Second World War.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Marquis is a student of history, always creative, [and] never boring….A good comparison might be Tom Clancy.”—Military.com
“‘Altar of Resistance’ is a gripping and densely packed thriller dramatizing the Allied Italian campaign…reminiscent of Herman Wouk’s ‘The Winds of War.’” —Kirkus Reviews
“In his novels ‘Blind Thrust’ and ‘Cluster of Lies,’ Samuel Marquis vividly combines the excitement of the best modern techno-thrillers, an education in geology, and a clarifying reminder that the choices each of us make have a profound impact on our precious planet.” —Ambassador Marc Grossman, Former U.S. Under Secretary of State
“‘The Coalition’ starts with a bang, revs up its engines, and never stops until the explosive ending….Perfect for fans of James Patterson, David Baldacci, and Vince Flynn.” —Foreword Reviews
“A combination of ‘The Great Escape,’ ‘Public Enemies,’ a genuine old-time Western, and a John Le Carré novel.”—BlueInk Review (for “Bodyguard of Deception,” Book 1 of WWII Series)
“A simply riveting read from beginning to end, ‘Spies of the Midnight Sun’ is impressively informed and informative, and a work of solidly researched history.” —Midwest Book Review
“Marquis writes quite well, but his real contribution with ‘Blackbeard: The Birth of America’ is historical….An engrossing and historically grounded yarn.” —Kirkus Reviews
“‘Cluster of Lies’ has a twisty plot that grabs hold from the beginning and never let’s go. A true page turner! I’m already looking forward to the next Joe Higheagle adventure.” —Robert Bailey, Author of “The Professor” and “Between Black and White”
“If you haven’t tried a Samuel Marquis novel yet, ‘The Fourth Pularchek’ is a good one to get introduced. The action is non-stop and gripping with no shortage of surprises. If you’re already a fan of the award-winning novelist, this one won’t disappoint.” —Dr. Wesley Britton, Bookpleasures.com (Crime & Mystery) – 5-Star Review
“Marquis is the new Follett, Silva, and Clancy rolled into one.”—Prof. J.R. Welch, Editor of “Dispatches from Fort Apache”
“With ‘Blind Thrust,’ ‘Cluster of Lies,’ and his other works, Samuel Marquis has written true breakout novels that compare favorably with—and even exceed—recent thrillers on the ‘New York Times’ Bestseller List.” —Pat LoBrutto, Former Editor for Stephen King and Eric Van Lustbader (Bourne Series)
“Samuel Marquis picks up his World War II trilogy with ‘Altar of Resistance,’ a well-researched and explosive ride through war-torn Rome with Nazis, booming battles, and intense cat-and-mouse chases….Grounded in historical fact but spiced up with thrilling imagination with the fate of the world in balance.” —Foreword Reviews
“Reminiscent of ‘The Day of the Jackal’…with a high level of authentic detail. Skyler is a convincing sniper, and also a nicely conflicted one.” —Donald Maass, Author of “Writing 21st Century Fiction” (for “The Coalition”)
“In the richness of the texture of his material, Marquis far exceeds the stance of a mere raconteur and entertainer of the masses—he, in fact, becomes a public historian.” —Lois C. Henderson, Bookpleasures.com (Crime & Mystery) – 5-Star Review
“Readers looking for an unapologetic historical action book should tear through this volume.”
—Kirkus Reviews (for “Bodyguard of Deception”)
“Samuel Marquis’s ‘Spies of the Midnight Sun’ weaves historical truth with masterful storytelling in an action-packed and intriguing tale of covert spy operations during World War II.” —Foreword Reviews
The WWII Series
SPIES OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN (May 2018)
Amazon #1 Bestseller – Historical Thriller
“‘Spies of the Midnight Sun’ is not only a skillful, rapid-fire historical spy thriller, but also a fine source on one of the least-known and most heroic chapters of the Second World War.” —Kirkus Reviews
The true story of the legendary British safecracker and spy Eddie Chapman, the British Double Cross Spy System, and courageous Norwegian female Resistance operatives Dagmar Lahlum and Annemarie Breien as they fight to defeat the Nazis. (ISBN 978-1943593231)
ALTAR OF RESISTANCE (January 2017)
Amazon Top 20 Bestseller – Historical Thriller
Award-Winning Finalist Foreword Reviews Book of the Year
Award-Winning Finalist American Book Fest Best Book Awards
Award-Winning Finalist Beverly Hills Book Awards
The gripping story of the Italian Campaign and Nazi Occupation of Rome in 1943-1944 through the eyes of the Allies, the German Occupiers, Pope Pius XII and the Vatican, and the Roman Resistance. (ISBN 978194359303)
BODYGUARD OF DECEPTION (March 2016)
Amazon Top 20 Bestseller – Historical Thriller
Winner Foreword Reviews Book of the Year
Award-Winning Finalist USA Best Book Awards
Can the American and British Allies stop a German spymaster and his U-boatcommander brother from warning Hitler’s High Command about the Allies’ greatest military secret? From a U-boat on the frigid North Sea to a brutal British interrogation center in heart of London to a remote German-POW camp and the world-famous Broadmoor Hotel overlooking the high plains and snow-dusted mountain peaks of Colorado, “Bodyguard of Deception” will keep you guessing until the final chapter. (ISBN 978-1943593125)