Thursday, September 21, 2017

JORD Watch $100 e-code and Book Giveaway

Hey there my friends! It's been awhile since I've hosted a giveaway so I have a very special one for you today, starting now and going on until October 11th, you can enter to win these two prizes:
Gift One:
A $100 e-code gift certificate to JORD Watches for Men
or JORD Watches for Ladies
To see a close up of the watch I selected, you can click this link: Frankie 35 Sandalwood & Slate
*if you win this $100 and you're a lady, I would choose this watch too! It's so smooth and delicate and the slate grey, rose gold and dark wood go with all of my outfits! I never thought I'd be a "watch person". I mean, I admire watches on other people but I have never found a timepiece that really speaks to me or says "Sadie's style". But ever since I got this watch, I find myself more and more in love with it every day. First, the wood is warm, earthy and feels good against my skin. I feel like the band is the perfect size for a feminine look. It's not too flashy with too much metal-but just the right amount of bling with the rose gold accents. Perfect for people like me who enjoy an understated elegance. Lastly, I love the slate grey. It's a cool tone that literally goes with everything I wear (which is mostly black, white or grey if I'm honest!)

Your JORD Watch entry will also automatically qualify you to win a copy of my current read that I am enjoying very much at the moment, Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt
I bought this book because Nick Cutter recommended it on Twitter but then I got a second copy in my Nocturnal Readers Box so my double up is your gain! I love, love this book so far and I'm 4 stories into this collection.

How to win:
Simply click this link: Sadie_Reads_Them_All & JORD Watch Blog Giveaway
And fill out the details. This will enter you in the $100 e-code and the book! Open to International friends too! This contest will end October, 11th, 2017. One winner will be chosen.

Wooden Wrist Watch

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Thoughts on the Dark Tower Movie

There will be movie and book spoilers in this post so if you haven't read the series (DO IT) and if you haven't seen the movie (consider yourself lucky) then you probably shouldn't read this post. BUT if you are a Constant Reader/Tower Junkie--then let's play, shall we?

I'll start with me. I read the first book, the Gunslinger, in high school. I'm not really sure when or exactly how old I was so we'll go with the idea that it was in the mid-nineties and I was between 15-17 years old. I loved the book enough to keep going. Lucky for me, I was able to binge the first three books from my mother's collection. Wizard & Glass came out just a few years after I finished. Then we had to wait an epic-length of time for Wolves of Calla. Which was followed very closely by the next three books-including the last one. My point in telling you this is that the Dark Tower series of books has been a part of my life since I was a teenager and carried me through marriage, jobs, pregnancies, etc. It's always been there for me. It's woven into the fabric of my literary experiences--a part of my worldview even. I love this series more than any other books.
So when my mom and I first heard Hollywood sniffing around for movie rights, I was concerned and rightly so, I mean, ever since movie rights were negotiated the project has seen a lot of changes. Directors have come and gone, actors have been rumored to be a part of it and then bailed on it, it just seemed like this movie deal has had some problems since the very beginning.
Then came some important announcements:
Writer/Director: Nikolaj Arcel wait, who?? I mean, we had Ron Howard and JJ Abrams on this project at one time, so who the hell is this? This is the guy that did the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which he also wrote the screenplay for and directed and I found major problems with the translation from book to screen.
Roland Deschain: Idris Elba. No. Nope. I mean, don't get me wrong here. I love Idris. I love him as Luther--I do not love him as the Gunslinger. He's too big/thick physically and there's an almost awkward quality to Roland that I was sure Idris would overlook or abandon for the sake of just being "bad ass". I nailed it. That's exactly how he played it-there was nothing endearing about Elba's portrayal of Roland. Plus, I hated how the writing focused on Jake and even at times, put Roland in the position of getting "schooled" by him. Just, no. And where was Roland's fucking hat? When you think of Roland--you think of him wearing THAT HAT!!

The Man in Black/Randall Flagg/Walter O'Dim: Matthew McConaughey. I have grown to like him as an actor. I liked him early on when he did A Time to Kill but then he went on to do a series of shitty movies like Rom-Coms and such. He has since reinvented himself as an actor and earned some stripes so I was on the fence with this choice. The verdict: HE SUCKED. He played this role like he was a grease-slicked-Vegas pit boss with mutant abilities in an X-Men movie. I hated it. That hair! That voice! GAH! NOOO!!

And according to the dumb writing of this screenplay, what even is the history between Roland and Walter? Who are they to each other? What is their relationship? Why do I CARE? Did the movie manage to tell the story of the Gunslinger at all? What the purpose is? The theme? I mean, if there's going to be more movies, wouldn't it at least serve your franchise to set up a theme? A goal? And shouldn't it tie-in to the actual overarching tale of King's opus:
"The Dark Tower series tells the story of Roland Deschain, Mid-World’s last gunslinger, who is traveling southeast across Mid-World’s post-apocalyptic landscape, searching for the powerful but elusive magical edifice known as The Dark Tower."
It's about the DARK TOWER!! Not a dumb vendetta against Walter. GAH! That really pissed me off. My family who didn't read the books were like, "Oh, so he killed the Man in Black then?" Game Over? GRRRRRRR!!!
Quote from the movie: "The Tower is all that stands between light and darkness. For thousands of generations the gunslingers were knights. Sworn to protect it. Now I'm the only one left"
Oh, but he's giving all that up to kill the Man in Black? UMMMM NOPE! Like Jake has to sit there and remind Roland what his journey is all about? Do you remember that?? I hated that scene. If we know that this is a continuation story to the dark Tower saga, then how are we supposed to buy into the fact that this is another journey, another time around the wheel for Roland when Jake has to be the one to remind Roland what his purpose is? Damn it. I'm really pissing myself off here.
Speaking of the Dark Tower, according to the movie, what even is Mid-World? Do we have any sense of world-building in this movie AT ALL? We are shown a "thinny" but is it explained? No.
But maybe if the director throws a bunch of Easter Eggs for King fans into the movie, King fans will overlook the total and complete lack of regard for world-building, character development and storyline?
"During the first act of the film, several Stephen King Easter eggs are visible. The twins from The Shining (1980), the family (including the dog) from Cujo (1983), and the car from Christine (1983) (as the toy pushed by Jake in his room) are each shown briefly" --IMDB 
Oh thanks for all the Easter Eggs. I'm so easily amused with them. Like, I love how Roland sees talking raccoons in a commercial and I get this cheap nod to a lovable character that nobody else will understand-that totally makes up for this disaster and won me over. *rolling my eyes*

I think it worked for some fans, but not for me and not for millions of other moviegoers as you do a comparison of The Dark Tower and IT
Dark Tower opening weekend 19.5 million $$
IT movie opening weekend 123 million $$
Rotten Tomatoes for IT movie 87% 4.8 star rating
Rotten Tomatoes for The Dark Tower 16% and 1 star rating
That's just pathetic. And I think it speaks a lot to the initial press for both movies, trailers and early critical reviews. Blame negative reviews from critics on the Dark Tower all you want, if you're going to defend the movie, they were negative for a reason. The movie sucked on almost any level. I'm not sure who the intended audience was for that film. It didn't resonate with anyone. Well, I mean, I've seen some people praise it, but I still don't understand what anybody liked about it. It wasn't an honest telling of King's story in any way, shape or form. I agree with what this critic said,

"Unfortunately, this adaptation fails on almost every conceivable level, whether it’s from a fan’s perspective or a newbie’s. The characterization is string-like thin, the majority of the acting is wooden and in some circumstances, laughably theatrical. In this day and age of technological advancement and mind-bending cinematic possibilities, even The Dark Tower’s special effects are instantly forgettable"--Daniel Seddon

Anyways, thanks for listening to me rant. Maybe I'll do a review on IT to cheer myself up, later. Because THAT is how you make an adaptation, folks.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Author Interview: Nick Cutter

In the Fall of 2016 I read a book called, The Deep by Nick Cutter. It starts off normal enough, an engaging read that sucked me into its pages and kept me interested. But in a short amount of time, I was noticing that there was something different about the writing. The details were very bright. I could see everything the author was translating to me in vivid, almost startling color. I began to worry about where this could ultimately go...I was scared.
When I finished the book, I looked up this, Nick Cutter guy to see if he had more for me. I learned that his actual name is Craig Davidson and had some books published under that name too. I wasn't interested in "that guy". I wanted more of this Cutter stuff. Next, I read his book called, The Troop. I had seen this one a little bit on #bookstagram. People said this was one of the gnarliest books they had ever read. GIVE IT TO ME NOW!
I found it at a thrift store and swooped it up and had the extreme pleasure of reading it on a camping trip. It blew my mind! I couldn't stop reading it and when I wasn't reading it, my mind was reeling from it.
Lastly, I was over the moon excited to get a signed copy of Little Heaven in my Nocturnal Readers Box! This is my favorite of the Nick Cutter books. In contrast to The Troop where the intensity started right off the bat, Little Heaven is a slow burn--a subtle reach into the pitch black madness that he actually wants to drag us into. My favorite part of Cutter's books: where the shit hits the fan.
My friends on #bookstagram will know that when I fangirl over something, it's not half assed. It's *full on*. So my love of these horror books is pretty full on and I talk about them all the time on both Instagram and Twitter. One day, on a whim, I worked up the nerve to ask Craig if I could interview him for myself and our community. He said, "sure". I was floored. I gathered up all my burning questions and petty quickly, he responded with his answers. I'm pleased as punch and honored to share those with you now:

Sadie: What authors have a huge influence on you? Both when you were a young reader and now?

Nick: Well, anyone who has read the Cutter books will see Stephen King’s fingerprints all over them. Maybe too obviously, for some readers, which is a fair criticism if they want to levy it. I think his work imprinted so deeply because I kind of skipped the whole YA spectrum of books—they weren’t really known as that back then—and went straight to King at, like, 12 years old. Maybe even younger. As I’ve said before, my parents were just happy to see me reading so they weren’t worried about what exactly that was, so long as I wasn’t leafing through Penthouses for the articles or whatever. And I think that was good on them. Back then EVERYONE was reading King, which isn’t much different from now, but I think in the 80s King was even more prominent than he is now. Maybe. So that work, his worlds, they imprinted so deeply on me. I was like a little gosling imprinting on the momma duck. And those lessons stuck deep—more deeply than I was even aware until I sat down and started to write horror. The thing with King is, he’s accessible and his style, at least to me, opens itself to both readers and writers. Unlike, say, Clive Barker, who is an enormously talented writer but his ornate, baroque, lush sentences seem so inimitably HIM that you wouldn’t necessarily imprint on him as a fledgling writer. But King and McCammon and Koontz, I think they feel more . . . they’re original and all their own, yes, sure, but also familiar and their works are those a new writer might feel like taking their early cues on style from. Anyway, other than those fellows, I was influenced by a lot of my fellow Canadians: Atwood and Munro and David Adams Richards and Wayne Johnston, none of whom write horror (well, Atwood can get pretty horrific) but in their sense of community and relationships and the wide open spaces our country has in abundance, their essential Canadian-ness, yeah. Of the 5 Cutter books (I’ll include the one I’ve just written), 2 take place in Canada, one in the States, one underwater, and one in an unnamed spot. So I do like to give a dap to my home country in the Cutter books.

(Sadie's note on this: I knew it. I knew Cutter was a King fan.)

Sadie: Is there anything you can tell me about your current writing projects? Are you writing as Craig and Nick?

Nick: My current writing projects . . . well, I’ve just finished, in first draft, a Cutter novel. It’s off with my father now, my perennial first reader. We’ll see what he thinks. From there it would go to my agent, and he’d have some suggestions, then I guess we’ll go out to publishing houses and try our luck. Little Heaven was my last Cutter book under contract, so we’ll just have to see. Beyond that, I have a collection of stories coming out next year with Knopf under my own name, and a novel also under contract with the same publisher. And every so often I heed the dubious siren song of Hollywood and put together a pitch for a TV show, often with a collaborator, and try to see if something can happen in that direction. So far no luck.

(Sadie's note on this: HOLLYWOOD! Get your shit together. We want a Little Heaven TV show!)

Sadie: The thing that strikes me the most about your writing is the very detailed, descriptive imagery-are you a natural observer of things? Are you constantly forming words for what you see around you-(I'm laughing at myself because I know what I'm trying to ask you but it's sounding flat) just tell me how you take what you see in your mind's eye and translate it to me; the reader.

Nick: Yes, people mention the details. That can be something some readers like and others find too much. Either too gory or simply too exhausting—they’re like, get on with the story and stop describing the intimacies of this slug or whatever the hell! So yes, I guess I have something of a photographer’s or a miniaturist’s eye for certain details. Some things, like the furniture in a room, I couldn’t give two shits about—other writers might dwell on those, or texture of light details, or landscapes. Anyone who has read me knows I tend to focus more on organic details. The intimacies of human (or not so human) bodies. It’s likely about finding the right balance: enough of those details to immerse a reader without punting other readers out of the narrative because they’re simply too much. It’s one of those things as a writer: you can and should write to your strengths, but often those same strengths can be weaknesses, or interpreted that way by certain readers. But writers are obsessives, too, in a general sense I think, so we can’t always help what compels and fascinates us.

(Sadie's note on this: Who are these readers that complain about "too gory" or they're "exhausted from the details"? Go read boring books!)

Sadie: Did you or do you have a bug collection?

Nick: I never had a bug collection, though it’s not surprising you’d ask. Not really a fan of bugs … or I should say they fascinate and repulse me in equal measure. A lot of people feel that way, I imagine. Other than the things lurking at the basin of our seas, nothing strikes me as alien quite like bugs. I saw a tank full of Madagascar hissing cockroaches at the zoo . . . each one as big as Andre the Giant’s thumb, it seemed to me. All boiling over each other in the tank. Not pleasant. That’ll show up in a book at some point.

(Sadie's note on this: RIP Andre the Giant. Also, I can't wait for more gross bug stuff.)

Sadie: Lastly, what fascinates you, currently?

Nick: Neurosurgery. Or really, surgeons in general. Thoracic, transplant, neuro. That God complex. The sense that one of them could lose a patient on the table at 9am, go golfing, and worry more about their slice into the woods than the person that died under their blade hours ago. That runaway confidence and sense they can defy the powers of Nature—a mentality they need to have to succeed. So I’ve got a couple of doctor/surgeon characters lurking in the next few books. And hospitals are creepy places. Nobody save a hypochondriac ever wants to be in a hospital. As a parent, and as a child of aging parents, hospitals inspire dread.

(Sadie's note on this: I CAN'T WAIT!!!)

Thanks so much to Nick Cutter (Craig Davidson) for his willingness to take time from his busy writing schedule and answer my silly questions. Also, people, if you've read all the Cutter books and you want some more of his writing, read the Davidson books! Cataract City is AMAZING!!!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Author Interview: Michael Reid Jr. Author of the New Release, "Sins of the Father"

A year ago in June of 2016, I won my first #bookstagram giveaway. It was a signed copy of "Debt of Fear" by Michael Reid Jr.
I quickly read the book and reviewed it which you can read, HERE
And the synopisis:
"Logan Falcone had finally stopped reliving the events in Iraq when a phone call from Samantha forced him to leave his detached reality. A terrorist attack in Paris hinted at American involvement and she feared a cover-up. A second attack, this time in Chicago, starts to open a deceitful door into a terrorist cell. Logan uses his old connections, a group of recon marines, and as much assistance as Samantha can give without compromising her job with the FBI. Leads fall through their fingers and it appears there’s a leak in the government. In the end, it comes down to Logan’s intuitive training and ability to read people. Will Logan be able to tap into who he used to be? Or will his fears of another loss dictate his actions, causing even more attacks and American deaths?"
Flash forward a year and here we are anticipating the release of the sequel to Debt of Fear, called
Sins of the Father. Check out this great cover!
You can read an exerpt from the book by clicking HERE
and if you find it intriguing, preorder the Kindle version for .99 HERE
Being that I'm a fan of Reid's books and a friend, I scored an exclusive author interview! And I know you'll enjoy it. So without anymore fuss, pretend that you are observing Mike and I on the set of my incredibly famous book related talk show with my special guest, Mike Reid:

1. Mike, It’s been about a year since I’ve read Debt of Fear, do you want to give us a refresher course on the plot before we read Sins of the Father?


Amir turned traitorous monster against his own country, 'Merica, then double crossed his handler Jenkins, murdering him and escaping the custody of the US government.

Meanwhile, Logan overcame some of his issues getting close to people as he solidified an old romance, but also nailed together a 4 man team, who will ultimately be tasked with hunting down Amir.

That's about as concise and spoiler free as I can make it.

2. For those of us with literary crushes on the protagonist, Logan Falcone, is there anything you want to tell us about him that we wouldn’t get from the books? Did you use a photograph for a reference? What does he look like in uniform?

I used no photograph. He's amorphic, taking on anyone's ideal soldier type. Fill in the blank with your imagination. That's who Logan Falcone is. A dreamy, mysterious hero. But have no fear. You get more of his dark and troublesome backstory in Sins of the Father. You'll love him even harder.
*Sadie's note: Here's what Logan Falcone looks like (just pretend the flag is American. It's Tom Hardy in camo, who cares where's he's from, right?)

3. This book is in the Military Thriller genre and your previous release, The Beyond Experience, is Spiritual Sci-Fi (I made up that genre classification for you, by the way, you’re welcome) which do you enjoy writing more?

That genre actually exists so quit patting your own back now. But I appreciate the love. I don't want to nail myself down to a particular genre. Reason being, this is fun for me. A great story comes to mind and I want to write it. I refuse to write a military thriller, a sci-fi whatever, simply because that's where my reader base is. That leads to poor, watered down writing in my opinion. The most flattering thing I could ever imagine hearing, is that I turned someone on to a genre outside their norm, simply because they loved my writing and wanted to follow along.
*Sadie's note: I never stop patting myself on the back.

4. Can you tell us more about your creative process? Anything unique to you? I’ve heard some weirdos get their best ideas while mowing the lawn. Isn’t that crazy? Where do you get your best ideas?

I actually get my best ideas mowing the lawn. I've heard the color green stimulates creative centers in the brain so maybe that has something to do with it. Going for walks has also helped me come to some of the exciting plotpoints and how they play out as well.

I think possibly the strangest thing I do is when I come up with a new idea. I don't write it down. That makes too much sense. I literally obsess over it for weeks, build the entire story in my mind, and when I finally want to scream because I can't stop, the story finishes itself. Then I write a brief outline, and usually, since I've rehursed it in my mind about a million times, I never forget the story.
*Sadie's note: Mike is clearly a weirdo.
5. If Sins of the Father was an ice cream flavor, what would it be?

Stupid question. But I'll answer. Moosetracks. Because it's got soft bits that pull you in emotionally, hard pieces which represent the crap the characters go through, the chocolate and caramel are the dirty deeds, and whatever. You get the point. There's a lot going on but somehow it's a symphony.
*Sadie's note: It's actually a great question. Probably everybody's favorite.
6. Let’s say some readers have never read a Military Thriller, what would you tell those readers so that they would be compelled to make your books their first try?

Ever watched Borne? How about Black Hawk Down? Band of Brothers? Zero Dark Thirty? Well imagine fusing all that together, and crank it up to 10. You're halfway there.

Still not sure? I interviewed several combat helo and f18 pilots, special operations agents, navy SEALs and government agents overseas to ensure the plot was both accurate and relevant to today's world. You won't find anything as intense and accurate, whether on screen or print.

7. What do you love most about self publishing and sub question, what do you hate about it?

I have complete control. Nobody tells me what to do. The bad, everything else. The promotions, the cost, the time. I would really love an agent ha. That way I can just write and write and write.

8. Do you have any exciting projects that you’re working on for the future and can you tease us with some details on those? If you’re not currently working on anything, what the hell is your problem?

I'm always working. Woman please. I guess I can make it official here, to some degree at least. I'm working on a massive sci-fi series, told in three books with big plans for book 1 tentatively entitled The Aurora. The series is OMEGA. It will follow an AI Droid who's tasked with assisting in the saving of humanity. But, you'll have to wait to read about how or what happened...and I promise that story hasn't been told. It's scope is incredible and I've been interviewing an astrophysicist who's excited about the idea. So you know right there it's good.

9. I heard a rumor that you know someone named Lucas Gravy. Is that right? Gravy? He sounds weird. Tell me about him.

Oh I know him. Lucas Graeves. And he's a psychopath so watch out. Just misspelling his name drives him mad. He writes some dark stuff, horror, keep you up at night sort of things. He's creepy, but I love him. He told me in confidence he's publishing in 2018. But don't ask him directly. Go through me. He's touchy.

10. Lastly, why am I the coolest person you know?

Cause you ask the questions that nobody else will. And you shoot straight with me. I appreciate that very much. Thanks for the support Sadie. Now go sell me a million books.

Well, there you have it. If this interview hasn't convinced you to buy both of these books and get on the Logan Falcone fanclub train, I don't know if you're doing your life right.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August's Nocturnal Readers Box: Infested & Infected- BLOG PARTY

You guys know all about the Nocturnal Readers Box, right? Known as NRB for all the cool kids. Well I have been a rep for them since January (I think) and I count my lucky stars every damn month that they chose me to represent this book subscription box to you guys. The theme for August was "Infested and Infected" here's what we got:
One of my favorite items is this exclusive NRB coffee mug:
design: Exhumed Visions
NRB always gives us these bad ass enamel pins and this one was inspired by Johnathan Mayberry's Patient Zero. I love that I have this amazing collection of horror theme pins for my tote bags and jean jacket.
New Release: Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones/signed.
I'm so excited and slightly nervous to try this exclusive bath bomb! I heard there's something in the middle of this thing. Yuck. I LOVE BATH BOMBS!!! This one is by the Fizzy Fairy
I think this is my all time favorite art print we ever got! I love the retro design and colors of this print. It's so creepy and gross too! I love it! Please check out Ally Burke's website! Lots of beautifully creepy artwork.
Brand New Release: The Grip of It by Jac Jemc. I'm so excited for this book!
"A chilling literary horror novel about a young couple who purchase and live in a haunted house. Jac Jemc’s The Grip of It tells the eerie story of a young couple haunted by their new home."
I love this snapback hat! It fits so well! Inspired by Stephen King's the Stand's biggest enemy, "Captain Trips" Probably my favorite wearable!!
Lastly, a previously released book This Book is Full of Spiders by David Wong.
"From the writer of the cult sensation John Dies at the End comes another terrifying and hilarious tale of almost Armageddon at the hands of two hopeless heroes.

WARNING: You may have a huge, invisible spider living in your skull. THIS IS NOT A METAPHOR."
Well that's all folks! Hope you get in on next month's box! Use my code if it's your first time subscribing! "SADIEREADS15"

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Chapter One: A Strange Request

If you haven't read the Prologue to this story, do so HERE


The room was absolutely as it should be. Sterile, organized and a bit on the chilly side. A small, steel table was set with a thin liner and a gleaming metal tray. Laid out on the liner were stainless steel tools; polished to a mirror shine and in their proper order of use. A large metal gurney on wheels was in the center of the room right over the drain in the concrete floor. Elsie Turner was locking down all four wheels with the toe of her boot. She was wearing her long skirts and a tight, long sleeve blouse that had a high collar. Over her clothes she wore a sturdy, white apron that was crisp and clean. Her long black hair was in its usual style for work; piled on top of her head in a tight bun secured with pins. Her gloved hand touched all the tools for a third time and straightened the liner on the gurney, then she took out her pocket watch and was surprised to see that Dr. Benton was a few minutes late already. She was just about to break protocol and retrieve the body herself, when she saw Dr. Benton and a strange man enter in through the main lobby. The two men were all smiles and chatting as they removed their jackets and hats and hung them by the door. Then they made their way to the examination room together.
Elsie suddenly didn't know what to do with herself. She was so accustomed to her daily routine with Dr. Benton, the slightest difference was causing confusion. Realizing she was standing awkwardly with her arms hanging at her sides in the middle of the room like a Neanderthal, she quickly picked up some paperwork off a side table and began shuffling through the pages. She also stole a glance at her reflection in the two way mirror at the back of the room. Elsie never wore makeup to work, but she looked pretty without it—she pinched her cheeks for a splash of color seconds before the door opened.
Elsie!” Dr. Benton entered the room, “Aren’t you a wee bit early?"
She opened her mouth to protest but thought better of it. The other gentleman was smiling at her. He looked to be her age, about thirty. He had longish, curly brown hair and thick sideburns. The men were doing that these days, growing out their sideburns in lieu of a mustache and beard. She thought the style looked very becoming on him. He wasn't attractive in a traditional sense. His eyebrows were bushy and wild, framing his dark, small eyes but he had a playful smile that caused her to smile automatically in return. Setting the papers aside and determining that Dr. Benton was forgetting to introduce his young friend, Elsie removed her medical gloves and threw them in the receptacle before crossing the room and extending her hand to the man, “Hello, I'm Elsie Turner. Dr. Benton's assistant.”
Oh!” Dr. Benton raised his hands in the air, “Where are my manners? I'm so sorry! Jacob, this is my assistant Elsie Turner. Elsie, my nephew, Jacob Benton—er, my brother's son.”
They were already shaking hands but the secondary introduction forced them to remain shaking hands until they were both smirking about it. His hands were strong and smooth.
It's a pleasure to meet you, Elsie. Uncle has told me so much about his eager, female assistant!” he gestured quotations around “female”.
Elsie blushed, “Dr. Benton has been so brave to take a risk having a woman do a man's job! He's very proud of his edgy business decision!”
So revolutionary! Clearly!” Jacob laughed. It was hearty and sincere.
Poor Dr. Benton didn't know if they were joking with him or about him and quickly changed the subject, “Elsie, Jacob just graduated from medical school and is looking to see what it is I do here as a small town medical examiner. I'm so flattered!” he clapped Jacob roughly on the shoulder, “I hope you don't mind having an extra set of eyes and hands around for awhile?” Both men looked at her.
Oh! Of course not!” secretly, she hoped this wouldn't mean that when the time came for Dr. Benton to retire, Jacob would be considered to inherit his uncle's practice. A very assumptive thought but she couldn't help thinking it. She also couldn't shake the butterflies in her stomach thinking about having Jacob Benton around indefinitely. Dr. Benton turned to his nephew, a funny pair: Dr. Benton short, bald and wearing spectacles and Jacob Benton, who stood at least four inches taller than him with his full head of hair and broad shoulders. Despite the differences, the family resemblance was strong. They had the same unique nose in profile and practically identical shade of mossy green eyes—but she wasn't staring. She was actually very busy shuffling her feet and looking like she was about to be busy.
Perhaps you could show Jacob where we keep the bodies pre-examination? I can get Jacob a coat and gloves.” she offered.
Yes!” Dr. Benton slapped his hands together, “A good plan, Elsie! Thank you. This way Jacob!” Dr. Benton led the way back out through the lobby towards the morgue. As soon as they disappeared through the double doors out the back of the lobby, the front door opened and a young girl came inside. Elsie tipped her head and approached the girl, “Hello. Can I help you?” It immediately bothered her that Jacob and Dr. Benton would be returning with a body—it would have a sheet covering it but still, a shocking sight for a young woman who already looked like she had seen a ghost.
I'm sorry to bother you ma'am. Are you terribly busy?” the girl was trembling, either cold or fear, she couldn't tell which but one thing was for sure, she didn't want the girl to be here when the body came through,
Let's step out into the hall. What's your name, Miss?” she put a firm hand on the girl's back and led her back out through the front door. It was very early in the morning, none of the other businesses that shared this space were open yet, so the hall was very quiet and a bit dark. Elsie crossed to one of the lights on the wall and manually turned up the gas a little bit. The brighter light helped the atmosphere be a little less, ominous. The girls hands were fidgeting and wiggling. She seemed to notice Elsie staring at them so she stuffed them in the pockets of the overcoat she was wearing, which looked too big for her and maybe a man's coat to boot,
My name is Madeline, Ma'am. I'm a servant girl at the Briarwood Manor.”
Elsie nodded her head. She knew the place. Everyone in this town knew of it. The large estate sat on a knoll just outside of town and could be seen bearing down on the landscape from any direction.
Madeline, why have you come here? And at this early hour?”
I'm not to start my tasks at the manor for another hour. I have a bit of time to ask you something and then be on my way for the morning duties.”
Ask me something? Do we know each other? You know of me?”
Yes ma'am, you know my ma, Pearl. She goes to that reading group on Fridays.”
Murder Mavens! Elsie went to Lady Hatfield's estate every Friday night where several women read a murder mystery book together and discussed it over whisky and cigars.
Oh! Yes! I know Pearl very well. Oh, Madeline what could you possibly need me for? Is your mother all right? Are you in trouble?”
Madeline’s eyes welled up with tears and her bottom lip trembled, “My ma, doesn't know I'm here. I got something real important to tell you. I hope you can help me?”
Yes, yes, I can try! What's the matter?”
I was hoping you could help us. At the manor. Concerning the Lady Briarwood and the Master.”
Elsie sighed and rubbed her brow, a little telltale sign of impatience, “Are they sick? Madeline, I'm very busy right now and I'm not a doctor you know?” she moved towards the door so she could open it and see if Dr. Benton and Jacob had returned but Madeline rushed to stand in front of her.

Listen, something is happening at the Manor! Something dark and sinister. I'm really the only one who notices besides just a few other staff members like the head footman, Mr. Ewliss. He let me borrow his jacket. He knows I'm here. He encouraged me to find someone who could help us.” Something about Madeline's genuine fear and the fact that she came all this way to seek her out, was adding to her desire for mystery and adventure. Elsie was a standout at the Murder Mavens get togethers. She had been silenced, by the other women, until everyone else attempted a guess at the mystery first. Perhaps Pearl told her daughter about her knack for mystery solving.
I think maybe you should tell the authorities if you think you're in real danger.” even as she said it, she knew there would be an argument.
Madeline was shaking her head, “We've tried that. Nothing happens when they're around and there's nothing to report. I cannot explain it but Master is able to deceive them.”
The door opened and Dr. Benton stuck his head out, “There you are! Is everything alright out here, Elsie?”
The two girls looked caught in something. Dr. Benton couldn't put his finger on it but there was an energy between the two that made him uncomfortable. The young girl had a desperate face he didn't like.
I'm just finishing up here with Madeline. I'll only be another minute or so.” said Elsie. There was a tone of confidence in her voice that assured the doctor that all way well, so he nodded and left them to their conversation.
Madeline sighed a big sigh. Her shoulders were slumped, extra slumped actually under the weight of the heavy coat and she looked so small and helpless in that moment that Elsie made a decision,
I'll help you.”
The girl's face lit up, her eyes wide and searching, so full of hope and gratefulness, Elsie's heart could barely take it,
I'm not sure what all I can do, I mean, I'm not an authority or a real investigator or anything!” she laughed, “I'm just a girl, Madeline. We both are. But I'm a smart girl, a wise one. And I have friends that might be interested too. I don't know if we can figure anything out but we can try.”
Oh! Thank you! Thank you!”
Madeline leapt in for a big hug, her arms squeezing Elsie hard enough to make her spine pop a few times, she returned the hug then pushed her away a bit,
Listen, I'm not sure how this is going to all work out but in the meantime, don't tell anyone you came here. Understand? Nobody! Except maybe that Mr. Ewliss.” she touched the coat.
Madeline nodded her head enthusiastically, “I think Master is always keen on hiring new help. We go through staff a lot there. Just a few of us have been there over a year or so. Maybe you could get a job there of some sort?”
We'll see. Off you go, Madeline. I have work to do.”
The girl smiled weakly and looked like she could burst into tears, “Thank you so much, again. Thank you.” then she slipped out the front door.
Elsie's head was full of the girl's odd request until she saw Jacob and Dr. Benton waiting for her in the examination room, then all thoughts were focused on her new acquaintance.
_____________ **______________

The girl in the oversized coat exited the big, brick building and flew down the long flight of stairs. As she passed by the alleyway between two buildings, a man stepped out from the shadows and fell in step behind her. She was humming a little tune and walking with a much lighter step compared to when he followed her into town this morning. Maybe she got what she came for. He stopped for a moment and put a hand rolled cigar between his lips. He lit a match and cupped his hand around the end of it while he brought the flame close. He drew smoke into his mouth, allowing it to release in thick puffs until the cigar was well lit and he could see some good ash building. The man looked for the girl. She was still on the sidewalk, just a block away. He started walking, one hand taking the cigar from his lips, the other hand fingering a blade in his pocket.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Sins of the Father Cover Reveal

Just in case you aren't subscribed to Michael Reid Jr.'s newsletter (which you should be! What's wrong with you??)
You can see the teaser cover right here:
Which is the follow up book to his debut novel, Debt of Fear
You can read my reviews for both The Beyond Experience HERE
And Debt of Fear HERE